Supporting a Loved One Toward Long-Term Sobriety

Supporting a Loved One Toward Long-Term Sobriety

If one of your loved ones has recently completed rehab treatment for addiction, it’s important to remember that this is just the first step on a long road. Recovery is a lifelong process, both for your loved one and for you. There will be challenges along the way, but with the right help and support, you, and they, can make it long-term.

For more help and support, visit Transitions Recovery.

Listen to your own needs.

It’s easy to entirely shelve your own needs when you’re supporting someone in recovery, but it’s important to remember that neglecting your own physical and emotional needs can lead to serious problems. Surround yourself with the support you need, whatever form that takes. You could try family therapy, individual therapy, or join a support group with other people who are experiencing the same thing. There are plenty of organizations running groups to provide families and friends of people with addictions with support as they go through the recovery process. 

Steps to sobriety

There are tons of potential stumbling blocks on the road to long-term sobriety, so removing as many of them as possible early in the process is crucial. Remove temptations such as alcohol bottles, pill bottles, or even advertisements for health products. Even empty bottles can trigger a response in an addict – a policy of abstinence enforced in the whole family can really help an addict feel supported and that they are not alone, as well as preventing temptation.

While you should keep an eye on your loved one, don’t take it too far. Establish boundaries as a family right from the start, so they know you’re there but still have some degree of privacy. Don’t dwell on the situation. Never refer to your recovering family member as an ‘addict’ or say things like ‘she used to be an addict’ to them or others. Addicts often have low self-worth, and this behavior won’t help. Instead, keep a positive attitude and use words that reinforce that attitude in both you and your loved one.

Face challenges head-on.

Recovering addicts often face other challenges, outside of possible relapse, during recovery. These can include psychological problems, financial problems, lack of employment, or issues in their relationships. You’ll need to support them through these other hurdles to maintain their recovery status.

Know when something is wrong.

When your loved one is in recovery, it’s easy to be in denial when something goes wrong. But then, an essential part of supporting someone in recovery is recognizing when one is at risk of relapse and knowing what to do to avoid it.

Signs of a possible relapse include:

  • Signs of withdrawal including the shakes, sweating, insomnia, or mood swings
  • Spending time with friends they associate with their previous lifestyle
  • Change in behavior
  • Talking about their addiction in a melancholy or glamorized way
  • Avoiding you or other loved ones

If you’re worried about a relapse, talk to your loved ones. It can be scary to start that conversation, and they may be angry, but avoiding it could have much worse consequences. Don’t be accusatory. Let them know you’re worried because you love and support them.


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