Addiction / Recovery
Clean & Sober: How To Support A Loved One In Recovery

This article is intended for the family and friends of those struggling with addiction – who are seeking out-patient treatment for substance abuse. They will be making use of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, individual therapy, medical assistance, and more.

Friends and family should begin by congratulating the person in question for their willingness to seek or receive treatment.

Whether seeking help for substance abuse was prompted by a crisis, was the result of an intervention, or is entered into at the behest of the person seeking help — these efforts should be seen as nothing less than heroic.

Help the person in need to begin at a point of self-compassion.  Do not let them give in to their impulse to see their struggle as a weakness. Asking for help – or being open to receiving it – is a strength. Be positive.

Help them to scaffold, build, and guard this truth. If they are parents, remind them that they are modeling behavior of self-care that they would want their children to emulate. Remind them that substance abuse has a genetic component, and that their actions suggest to children that self-care is both necessary and a strength.

Help them to anticipate areas of stress in their life and ask how they can be anticipated and addressed. Create a fund that a third party can administer to ensure that household bills are paid. If childcare is an issue, anticipate areas that could be stressors. Help to organize carpools for schlepping children from ballet to soccer and so on. Arrange for meal delivery.

Arrange for specific coverage at moments that might be stressful for someone in the early days of recovery. Help people to discover new activities for self-care. They may be more open than they realize – seeming desperation is not always bad. For example, many people struggle in the early evening. If someone can make it through the cocktail hour with a plain seltzer, they are better able to face the rest of the evening sober. Send them a delicious alcohol-free drink.

Remaking these triggers helps a great deal. Suggestions of yoga classes instead (ignore the initial eye roll) may actually be immensely helpful. Writing classes are great places to put down thoughts and feelings. Support introspection by touching base and making sure that the person in recovery is feeling centered.

Dr. Jeffrey Foote is a nationally renowned psychologist with extensive experience in substance abuse counseling.

Dr. Foote advises that the person seeking help can and should retain as much autonomy about decision-making as possible. It is critical that the sufferer feel comfortable that her own narrative is being respected.

Many people who are seeking help for substance abuse have arrived at rock bottom. They feel devastated. While this is understandable in a certain way, those who are looking to support the sufferer should make efforts to remind of their numerous positive traits. Addicts labor under the burden of societal stigma regarding substance abuse in general.

This toxic brew leaves an addict vulnerable to self doubt. Those who are on his or her side will help them to remember their own truth – that it takes courage to seek help. They will show up relentlessly to attend yoga class or ply them with a cup of tea. An addict in crisis is looking to rewrite a story. Those who wish to help rewrite a story will do so in positive terms. The more empowered an addict feels, the greater the possibility of long term overall psychological health.

To be trusted even as one struggles, is a gift the importance of which is difficult to fully convey.

Visit. Go for a massage. Listen. It is a difficult stream but one well worth fording.

Center for Motivation and Change Video Used with Permission.

Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.

Call for Submissions

Share Your Story

Give InKind offers a platform for anyone to submit their stories, to help and inspire others to get through any of life’s disruptions.