“Despite the challenges, families who understand the inevitable ups and downs of early recovery put themselves in a strong position to offer their loved one meaningful support.”
~Beverly Conyers, Everything Changes: Help for Families of Newly Recovering Addicts
When a loved one is in alcohol or drug rehab and hoping to begin a new, sober life, you might understandably worry about how you should act around and toward them.
To someone newly-sober, your support and understanding is crucial if they are going to succeed at staying away from addictive substances and avoiding relapse.
At this fragile time, your loved one is probably wondering – “What’s next?”
This might be the first time in years that they haven’t tried to face life without drugs or alcohol. Because they no longer have that crutch, they might instead turn to you for answers. But what if you are just as clueless as they are?
It’s not your job to have all the answers to this wonderful new situation. Your job is to just be there as your recovering loved one faces new challenges with a clean and sober mind.
Make no mistake – THEIR recovery is THEIR responsibility. But there are still lots of ways that you can help. For example:
Addiction is a lonely disease, even in recovery.
Newly-sober substance abusers have learned to avoid their old drugging and drinking buddies, but at the same time, they are still rediscovering how to reconnect with family and friends they may have alienated. They may even be isolated by guilt and shame over their past behaviors.
Here’s the thing – a lonely person is at extreme risk of relapse.
So what can you do?
Check in on them frequently – keep the human connection alive. When you ask how they are, don’t settle for the typical answer of “I’m fine”. Let them know that their efforts are appreciated and their company is welcome.
Never forget that their recovery MUST come first. At times, this will limit your time together. For example:
NEVER demand that they ignore another commitment so they can spend more time with you.
Even with recovery and work commitments, a newly-sober person invariably finds themselves with too much time on their hands. Boredom, like loneliness, can lead to relapse.
You can fill up their empty time with positive companionship.
There are “3 C’s” to remind you of how to best support someone new to recovery –
If someone you care about is ready to face their addiction and win, Chapman House Treatment Centers can help. Since 1978, Chapman House has been the go-to resource for struggling substance abusers and families in Orange County, California.
by Albert Fontemot