When one of your loved ones is battling an addiction, you may not know how to express your feelings. The last thing you want to do is offend them or unknowingly trigger their addiction. This guide features a few thoughtful ways to show your love and support to your family member in recovery so that you can remain by their side throughout their journey.
1. Clear Your Home of Triggers
Addiction comes in many forms, so there could be a few unnoticed triggers in your home. You may have cleared your pantry of alcohol, but does your mouthwash use alcohol as a cleaning agent? Or the powdered sugar in your grocery cart could resemble addictive drugs your loved one is trying to avoid.
Talk with your loved one, their sponsor, or their group counselor to find potential triggers and remove them from your home.
2. Voice Your Unconditional Love
People in recovery are often embarrassed or hard on themselves. They may think others are judging them just as harshly, so voice your unconditional love often. Remind them that they don’t have to do anything to earn your love. You don’t expect anything from them. You love them for who they are and the happiness they’re creating in recovery.
3. Create a Judgment-Free House
Removing judgment requires more than telling someone how much you love them. You also have to set your positive intentions to keep judgment away from your home. A positive mindset will keep negative words or emotions from slipping into conversations and potentially hurting your family member in recovery.
4. Try Self-Care Activities Together
Self-care is an excellent resource during recovery. Addictions are habits that consume someone’s time, so that person will need activities to fill that time after deciding to go clean. Try these activities together, like taking daily walks or doing puzzles at the kitchen table. Talk with your loved one about what interests them and find ways to make it a group activity so it’s more fun.
5. Give Them Some Space
Recovery requires lots of processing. The person healing from addiction needs to heal on the inside, which may require time alone. If they need space, give it to them. Let them have their quiet evening in their room or on the porch. When they’re ready to be around people again, you can shower them in love to help them feel comfortable after struggling with heavy emotions.
6. Look for Troubling Signs
Although everyone wants their loved one to remain in active recovery, sometimes accidents happen. If your family member falls off the wagon when they’re alone, they’ll need you to look for active-use or withdrawal symptoms.
They might try to quit again without telling anyone or keep the next phase of their addiction going. Look for signs that may indicate a need for medical attention, like:
- Clouded cognition
Keep an eye out for these symptoms and similar detox signs, but don’t wait for them to happen. Tuck the information into the back of your mind and remain positive while your loved one experiences their recovery.
7. Attend Group Sessions Together
Some substance abuse groups limit attendance strictly to people in recovery. Other times, they may open their doors to family members. Ask if your loved one would like your support during their next meeting. They may appreciate having your presence by their side, even if you never say a word.
Leave the decision up to them, since it’s their recovery process. Attending a group session together can be one of the most thoughtful ways to show your love and support to your family member in recovery, but only if it’s on their terms.
8. Meet With Your Own Counselor
Supporting someone who’s recovering from addiction is emotionally and mentally draining. People easily burn themselves out, especially if they don’t know how to handle the experience. Consider meeting with your own counselor or therapist to discuss the best way for you to be there for your family member.
You can start by checking your insurance provider’s directory of therapists or looking around online for organizations that hire specialists trained in assisting people who support recovering addicts. Finding an expert who knows how to help with your unique situation is the best way to find the right help.
9. Find New Fun Activities
Addictions can become ways for people to socialize or eliminate boredom. These are other things that need new replacements during recovery. Find fun activities beyond self-care efforts, like hobbies or social events.
Sign your family up for weekly bowling nights, volunteer opportunities, or hobbies like knitting. Whenever your loved one gets bored or wants to feel a sense of community, they’ll have all the resources they need to fill their time without reaching for old habits.
10. Leave the Past Behind
You may share a painful history with your loved one because of their addiction. Although it’s good to work through things with a therapist or counselor, leaving the past behind in everyday conversations is also wise.
Avoid saying anything out of bitterness or anger, lest you reopen old wounds. You’ll both find healthier ways to process everything and move forward together. Your loved one also won’t become triggered by the deep emotions associated with your shared history and go back to their addiction to deal with them.
Show Your Love and Support
Recovery is challenging, but families can get through it by pulling together. Now that you’ve read about these thoughtful ways to show your love and support to your family member in recovery, consider what would help them the most right now. You’ll find the best solutions for their needs and be there for them without hurting your mental health in the process.