More than 20 million Americans suffer from substance abuse problems involving alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medications. Although addiction takes a toll on every aspect of a person’s life, medical treatment can play a pivotal role in breaking the cycle of abuse so recovery can begin.
While substance use disorders pose challenges for those who are addicted and their loved ones, recovery poses its obstacles and difficulties that need to be overcome. If you have a loved one who’s on their recovery journey, your support is critical — but understanding how you can help isn’t always easy.
With locations in San Pedro, California, Harbor Community Health Centers helps patients navigate their substance abuse recovery with patient-centered therapies, including psychotherapy and other behavioral health services. This post reviews six important strategies you can use to provide much-needed support for your loved one.
1. Educate yourself
Let’s face it: There’s no way to know what another person is experiencing in any phase of their life, and that includes someone who’s in recovery from a substance abuse addiction. But we can all be sympathetic and compassionate.
That begins with developing a deep understanding of what addiction and recovery involve and how we can play a role in our loved one’s journey. Reading books, online references, articles, and other people’s stories about their recovery is a great starting point. Just be sure the sources you use are unbiased and reputable.
2. Develop your listening skills
When we set out to help and support someone, it’s very tempting to try to offer solutions. But to help someone who’s going through recovery, we need to be good listeners — not advice-givers.
Listening without bias or prejudice is a skill that doesn’t always come easily, but it can play an essential role in helping your loved one vent about their worries and frustrations without fear of being judged. Remember: Your role as a listener is not to find the “right” answer but to help your loved one feel validated as they find their path.
3. Encourage a healthy lifestyle
Alcoholism takes a toll on both emotional and physical wellness. Encouraging healthy habits, like a good diet, regular activity, and a normal sleep schedule can help them develop the tools to stay on course with their recovery. Avoid the desire to lecture; set an example by demonstrating healthy behaviors in your own life.
4. Ask what they need
When you care about someone, it’s tempting to offer all sorts of help for what you think your loved one needs. But sometimes, that kind of helpfulness can be invasive or bothersome, even though you mean well.
Instead of offering advice unprompted, use those listening skills and ask your loved one how you can help — or better still, just let them know you’re there and let them decide if and when they need to ask for your assistance.
5. Take care of yourself
Substance abuse takes a toll on everyone, and it’s important not to lose sight of yourself when trying to care for someone else. Set aside time daily to meditate, read, listen to music, or perform other acts of self-care, and consider seeking therapy to help deal with the emotions and stresses you’re facing, too.
6. Practice patience
There’s no cure for addiction; recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime. It’s natural to want to see your loved one make obvious progress in their journey. But often, that progress is being made in very subtle ways you might not even notice. Being patient means shedding your expectations and focusing on being supportive instead.
call 310-547-0202 to book an appointment with the team at Harbor Community Health Centers today.