How to Help a Loved One with Addiction and Recovery Treatment

One of the most difficult aspects of trying to help a loved one who is struggling with active addiction is understanding that their brain has changed due to addiction. Addiction hijacks the brain’s reward system, disrupts the part of the brain responsible for impulse control, and creates neurally embedded associations and memories with the individual’s addictive behavior, resulting in things triggering them that may not even enter the conscious mind. 

Remember Recovery Is Complex

Recovery is not as easy for those immersed in addiction as it seems to be for those who are sober. There is no easy fix or cure. A person may continue to use substances even though they want to stop, even though they see that it hurts their friendships and family relationships. Their continued usage is not because they do not care; addiction is far more complex than that.

How To Talk With Someone Who Is Struggling With Addiction

When speaking to your loved one who is in active addiction, be encouraging and do not shame them. Talk with positivity. Being compassionate is a great way to help build trust.

Know That You Can Provide Support But Can’t Force Them Into Recovery

Take a moment to self-reflect and identify any ways you may be enabling them to continue to use. Due to the dangerous nature of addiction, it’s understandable that you may want to force your loved one into treatment. The only person who can choose to stop using is the user. People with addictions are more likely to seek treatment when they face the consequences of their actions and overcome their fear of addiction treatment. Allow them to make mistakes without the promise of your rescue. 

When an addict is unwilling to seek treatment, it is important to establish boundaries and to stand your ground when saying no. Addicts will resort to whatever they need to do to continue using. Lying, trying to guilt-trip the people who care for them, any means to manipulate the situation will most likely be enacted upon. It may be very difficult not to react negatively or to stick to your established boundaries. 

Support Your Loved One With Encouragement And Compassion

The level of hopelessness towards sobriety may be unwavering in your loved one. Continuing to express hope that change is possible is important. Maintain your commitment to loving and encouraging your loved one. Be honest yet compassionate when expressing your feelings and concerns. Maintaining healthy boundaries can be difficult. With addiction, the battle is typically between life or death. It can be difficult, but as the outsider with zero ability to control the actions of others, you need to remain patient and avoid blame or accusing the person of doing wrong. 

Seeking Information About Drug And Alcohol Treatment Options

Researching treatment facilities and calling rehabs to discuss treatment options is productive. Part of helping an addicted loved one is learning what treatments are available. It is best to be prepared with options before your loved one is ready to admit. The more organized you are, the easier it will be to pitch your plan. Discuss with your loved one and identify treatment approaches they may be more open to. Identify what their priorities are in treatment and try to find a facility that suits their stated needs. If they have been to treatment before, try to identify what aspects of that treatment did not work for them. 

Continue To Help And Take Part During Treatment

Once your loved one is in treatment, you can continue to help them. Family involvement in rehabilitation is beneficial for both the addict and their loved ones. Addiction affects everyone involved, from the person in treatment to their loved ones. Sometimes when trying to help a loved one with addiction, traumatic incidents occur. A part of healing from the active phase of addiction is healing from traumatic incidents. It’s important to ensure you’re well enough to manage the potential stress of helping someone dealing with addiction. Acknowledging that you may be traumatized and in need of professional help is normal and healthy. It’s also necessary for you to help yourself in order to help your loved one to the best of your abilities.

There’s Still A Bunch Of Work To Do Once Treatment Starts

Once your loved one is in treatment, you may feel immense relief. Not so fast though, this is merely the beginning of a new chapter, not the end of their addiction story. Check in on your loved one frequently and actively listen to what they have to say. Even if you may not agree with them, affirm their feelings. Reduce friction and unnecessary arguments as much as possible. Do your part to establish healthy communication. Open dialogue to help facilitate constructive support. Try to spend meaningful time together and try to avoid unneeded or unwanted topics of discussion. There are some things you may simply have to agree to disagree on. Encourage healthy habits such as open communication, proper sleep hygiene, exercise, eating healthy meals. Show your support by living a healthy lifestyle yourself or abstaining from alcohol, drugs, and nicotine. 

Recovery Is A Lifelong Endeavor For Everyone

It is important to remember that addiction is not a matter of willpower, nor is it a moral failing. Approximately 40% to 60% of individuals relapse within the first 30 days of leaving an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center, and up to 85% relapse within the first year of recovery. While your loved one is in treatment, it is important to understand that this is a lifelong process that takes effort every day. Assess the environment your loved one will be returning to after treatment. Reduce environmental triggers as much as possible. Establish a relapse prevention plan with your loved ones and prepare for how you can help them in the event of a relapse. Be patient, consistently encourage them, and never forget that your loved one is worth recovery, regardless of how many tries it takes them. 

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