Our home is a place where we all seek shelter and support from our daily challenges. Yet for many people, living with an addict or alcoholic can threaten that safe haven. Substance abuse can turn your home from a source of shelter into a place of conflict, chaos, and violence.
Sadly, many American households deal with substance abuse in the home. In 2014, 21.5 million American adults had battled or were battling with substance abuse, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This means that many households deal with addiction or alcoholism.
The Family’s Role in Recovery
Navigating home life with a recovering drug addict or alcoholic can be a challenge. Living with a drug addict or alcoholic affects not only them, but you, as well. The same goes for recovery. If someone in your family is recovering, it’ll affect you. Learning how to support the loved one during their recovery is paramount.
You play an important role in supporting your loved one during their recovery. Since the role can be challenging for everyone, the counselors at Cold Creek Behavioral Health have put together a list of their top tips for handing living with a recovering addict or alcoholic.
Recognize that a loved one’s return from a rehabilitation facility. It is common to experience ups and downs during the initial stages of the transition. No matter the center, addiction treatment is never a cure; instead it requires a lifelong commitment from both the recovering addict and their loved ones.
Upon returning home from treatment, the recovering individual is unlikely to act perfectly and will typically need time to adjust outside of treatment. Keep that in mind and don’t expect them to be perfect right from the get-go.
Even though your loved one has successfully completed treatment, addiction has consequences that can continually affect them and your family.
Typical Challenges for a Recovering Addict
During recovery, addicts typically face many trials and hardships, such as:
- Relationship issues
- Health difficulties
- Financial struggles
- Navigating everyday life
- Coping problems
When living with a recovering addict, it’s important to encourage them to keep up with techniques they’ve learned in rehab. Beyond that you can help your loved one by attending family therapy sessions, encouraging them to meet with a doctor regularly, and discuss their financial problems with someone who can help. More than anything, you can be a source of strength for them by being realistic and guiding them to other sources.
- Help Them Embrace a Sober Lifestyle
You can support the recovering addict in your family by embracing a way of living that keeps him or her away from the temptation of using. Make sure you rid the house of any substances, including alcohol, to avoid any easy temptation.
This is especially important because it shows your loved one that you fully support their clean lifestyle. It’s also important because when everyone in the home acts in accordance with the recovery lifestyle, it’s easier for a recovering addict to pursue a sober lifestyle.
Find Clean Activities
Along with ridding your home of alcohol, you can support your family member by embracing sober activities, such as:
- Hiking a local trail
- Go to the movies
- Play sports together
- Get active by rock-climbing or kayaking
- Planning a family vacation
- Visit an amusement park or local museum
- Support the Support
A recovering addict needs an army of support full of loving friends and family. Sometimes it’s important that that army also get the support they need. Support groups like Al-Anon can help that network of supporters stay strong, as well.
How Family and Friends Can Gain Additional Support
Both the family and the recovering drug addict or alcoholic greatly benefit by using therapy techniques like:
- Stress reduction through meditation
- Deep breathing
Recovery requires a team. Not just friends and family, but counselors, therapists, other recovering addicts, and beyond.
Know the Relapse Warning Signs and How to React
Despite participating in sober activities and having a good support system, a relapse can still occur.
Relapse can still occur. Regardless of the support team and the progress, keep an eye out on warning signs of a relapse.
The Relapse Warning Signs
Stopping a relapse is not always possible, but there are common relapse warning signs. These typically include:
- Loss of interest in activities
- Romanticizing the days when they’re using
How to React to Relapse Warning Signs
There are several ways to react upon spotting a warning sign. For example:
- Suggest that he or she attend a recovery support group
- Talk with a therapist
- Have them attend an outpatient program
When reaching out to the individual at risk, avoid judging or criticizing; a caring, concerned approach is best when living with a recovering alcoholic or drug addict.
Written by Matt of Cold Creek Behavioral Health — focusing on addiction recovery for life.