If your friend or family member has gone into treatment for a drug or alcohol problem, you’re probably quite happy and relieved. It can be heartbreaking to watch a loved one struggle with addiction and all the misery it brings.
More than likely, though, you’ll have some mixed emotions, too. You may fear your loved one is becoming holier than thou, and wonder whether your relationship will be the same now. You may also have lingering feelings of resentment over your loved one’s treatment of you during active addiction. The good news is, those feelings can be resolved and your relationship can be better than you ever hoped.
It’s critical that you respect your loved one’s decision to seek treatment and understand that recovery is the most important thing in their life. Your support and encouragement will be enormously helpful in their journey.
The most important way we show respect for recovery is by never encouraging a person in recovery to drink or use drugs again. There are no exceptions to this rule. It’s never okay to say things like, “Can’t you have just one?” or, “You’ve been sober a while; you must have gotten it out of your system by now.” Those who are not in recovery sometimes think the purpose of treatment is to teach people “how to handle their alcohol.” If you still enjoy drinking or recreational drugs on occasion, and don’t have a substance abuse problem, you might not understand that your loved one can never safely use drugs or alcohol again.
Recovering addicts and alcoholics must never be pressured to attend functions where they might be tempted to relapse. This may be as innocent as bringing out a bottle of wine at Sunday dinner. If your loved one expresses discomfort or the desire to drink, spend a quiet moment with them and ask if they need to leave. Refrain from judging; it’s likely not you they need to get away from, but the temptation to relapse. Tell them you understand – and then make plans to do something fun that is completely free of drugs and alcohol. Meet for coffee. Play tennis. Go for a walk. There are a hundred ways to connect, and this is a good opportunity to try a new activity together.
Above all, understand that your loved one is changing, growing, and learning a new way of life. Your trust in each other will develop anew as you begin to reframe your relationship. Recovery takes honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness on both your parts. Celebrate your loved one’s progress and be a champion for their recovery.
Recovery is a journey the entire family can take. Smarmore Castle Private Clinic offers family therapy for the entire journey of treatment in addition to the various therapies and healing modalities for achieving optimum health of mind, body, and spirit. Call us today to get information on our rehabilitation programmes: +353 41 214 5111
Last updated & clinically assessed 26 March, 2021