How to Support a Loved One in Treatment
Loving warmth and support
If you haven’t suffered from drug and alcohol addiction yourself, or even faced emotional hardships in your life you might feel that you are unqualified for supporting your loved one. Positive support from family has been shown to lower symptoms of depressions. Make sure not to minimize what your loved one is experiencing. Addiction is not a failure, choice, or lack of moral integrity. It is a fatal disease of the brain. Treating addiction like any other illness will help normalize, but not discount, their experience. Learn everything you can about addiction to demonstrate your effort to understand. Remember that they are facing one of the most difficult challenges they might ever have to in their lives. Withdrawing from drugs and alcohol is hard. The body as well as the brain become chemically dependent on them. Like a degree in school, they are getting an education on learning how to live life an entirely different way.
Set a good example
“Do as I say, not as I do” will not continue to have merit when a loved one enters treatment. Everything in their lives is changing. They are probably going to be changing their friends, their hobbies, and everything about the way they live their lives. Instead of sharing in the uncertainty, act as an anchor. Don’t meet their anxiety with anxiety. Meet their emotions with a level of calm. They’re looking to you as a sense-maker in their newly chaotic world.
As their friendships with fellow addicts and alcoholics cease to exist, they might find themselves feeling lonely. Even while in treatment, surrounded by others in the same situation, they may feel insecure about making new friends. Research shows that peer support is one of the biggest contributors toward coping, resilience, and happiness.
Encourage them to seek meaning
Drugs and alcohol used to define their lives; from obsessing and seeking to participating in the culture surrounding their substance of choice. In many ways, they are experiencing the stages of loss and grief in their lives. Additionally they are suffering a chemical deficiency of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that creates pleasure and reward. Finding meaning in their recovery is a key to staying inspired throughout sobriety. Remind them that they are making the right decision for their lives.
Become an advocate
The world still largely stands against addicts and alcoholics. Support them and other addicts around the world by advocating for their rights.