Drug and alcohol addiction is a serious problem that can put a major strain on an addicted person’s relationships. If you are a friend or family member of an addict, your relationship with him or her has likely experienced its fair share of ups and downs. But here’s the good news: Once the addicted loved one seeks help for his or her addiction and gets on the road to recovery, there is hope for the relationship.
To maintain a healthy relationship with the recovering addict in your life, check out these helpful tips to ensure you’re reinforcing his or her recovery.
Show Support. When an addict is in recovery—especially early on—your ongoing support is essential to his or her success. Attend 12-Step family recovery meetings in your community (i.e. Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, CoDA, etc.); ask him or her how you can help; and just listen when needed. Let the recovering addict know you support him or her in this endeavor, physically, emotionally and mentally.
Maintain Boundaries. While it is important for you to show support to an addicted friend or family member who is in recovery, you must also maintain healthy boundaries if you want to your relationship with him or her to improve. Rule number 1: Your life should not revolve around the recovering addict. It is perfectly OK to be concerned about him or her, but always take time out for yourself. Otherwise resentment may build up.
Communicate. As with any relationship, communication is vital to enjoying a healthy relationship with an addicted loved one who is in recovery. While a life in recovery is the better way, it isn’t always easy. Sometimes an addict needs someone with whom they can talk openly and honestly. Be that person. (Of course, always encourage the individual to talk with his or her sponsor as well.)
Be Present. Emotional support is certainly a fundamental part of a healthy relationship, but physical support is just as important. Make the time to be available for the recovering addict in your life. Have a coffee date, go for a walk or enjoy some quiet reading time in the same room. Togetherness is what matters most. Your presence is another way to let your loved one know you care about his or her recovery.
A recovering addict has a greater chance at recovery when his or her relationships encourage recovery and not hinder it. Get involved in this new way of life, and you’ll reap the benefits of recovery, too. Be a part of the solution!
Author Jason Harter, CAC is an addiction counselor who strives to maintain relationships between affected family members. He enjoys blogging and is a contributing writer for bestaddictionscounselingdegrees.com.