It’s a huge moment when your loved one agrees to seek help for drug or alcohol abuse, but it doesn’t take long before question begins creeping into your mind. As positive as you may be, there’s one concern that appears to surpass the list for many: “What if my loved one is influenced to use again and how can I prevent a relapse?”
How to assist your loved one in staying sober
Getting sober is only half of the battle. Staying sober is the real goal and how to stay sober is a true challenge.
The work begins at a quality treatment center, but there are also things you can do after treatment to help your loved one.
Everyone is different, of course, but below are some basic strategies that can help your friend or family member stay sober:
Don’t Compare. Although you may think you’re being helpful and encouraging, comparing your loved ones experience in recovery to another’s may do more harm than good. Nobody wants to hear how your friend’s brother’s son is going to two meetings a day or how someone else you know is already enrolled in college. Everyone is different, so let your loved one progress at his or her own pace without constant comparisons to other people.
Be Supportive. Just being there for your loved one can do more than you realize. Sometimes recovery can leave people to feel lonely, and just being with them will offer true support. Whether it’s offering to give rides to 12-step meetings, going grocery shopping, or going with them on a walk, these are all small acts of support. In addition, just being available to talk and trying your best to listen to your loved one without rushing to “fix” everything can go a long way. Aim to be an active and non-judgemental listener and let them know you are a trusted source to depend on during their sobriety.
Be Healthy. A healthy lifestyle can go a long way in regards to assisting your loved one in feeling accomplished and good during their recovery so try to focus on a healthy lifestyle when possible. You can try going for walks, to the gym or even a bike ride together. In addition, make healthy living fun. Find new healthy recipes to try, set a new health goal, and find other ways to bring in new energy to their life.
Let Go of the Past. The last thing anyone in recovery needs is to be constantly reminded of how they disturbed you while they were still using drugs or alcohol. If you have a hard time letting go of the past, seek help in the form of a support group or therapy instead of taking out your emotions on your loved one.
Be Patient. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. Your loved one will certainly make mistakes along the way so it’s important to give them the time they need in order to rebuild their life. Having you as a support system and encouragement along the way will provide more peace to their life than one may realize.