One of the most difficult challenges a relationship can face is an addiction. Whether it’s a family member, close friend, or partner, addiction is incredibly damaging to our personal relationships and the recovery process takes a lot of commitment. If a person close to you is currently working through addiction, here are some things you can to do help.
UNDERSTAND THEIR CONDITION
This is first because it’s the most important. Often times when someone close to us suffers from addiction, our first impulse is to off all kinds of help. However, if you are ill informed on addiction you could do more harm than good. This resource from the National Institute on Drug Abuse covers all the basic facts about addiction that you’ll need. Remember that popular media like movies and TV shows have given us a very skewed understanding of addition and the first step to helping your loved one is getting informed.
Trust is one of the most important aspects of any relationship. In a relationship with a loved one suffering through an addiction, trust can become strained. Avoid nagging, attempting to control, or getting angry with them. Being hurt, disappointed, or upset is natural, but you can express these emotions without being cruel to your partner. Remember, addiction isn’t a moral failing—it’s a medical condition. Trust is a two-way street, remember that while things are difficult now, they weren’t always and they hopefully won’t always be.
THE TREATMENT PROCESS
Addiction treatment can appear complicated form the outside looking in. There are many different approaches to care and recovery here. Some addicts stay in 12-Step style programs, others use a mixture of therapy and medical care, still, others use in-patient programs. If you are included in your loved one’s Addiction treatment, remember to be honest about how this is, and has, affected you. If they chose to go through treatment alone, respect their choice and respect them. Addiction can be very personal and recovery can unearth a lot of pain. Your loved one might need space, especially early on in their treatment, while they recover.
IS THERE A CURE?
In short, no. Addiction is what is known as a chronic illness. These types of illnesses are never cured in the same way we can cure an infection and have it go away forever. It’s always somewhere in the background. Just like with other chronic conditions like pain or depression, the goal of Addiction treatment is to get your loved one to a place where they can manage their condition. This means that there will likely be minor, or major relapses along the way to sobriety. It’s important not to see those as your loved one failing, but as a normal complication in the recovery process. You wouldn’t get mad at someone with a bum knee having a bad week, right?
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
You can’t help your loved one if you are suffering yourself. Addiction has a lot of collateral damage to our lives and the lives of those close to us. The closer you are to your loved one, the more your lives are entwined, the more likely it is that their addiction has caused you pain. Because of their condition, they won’t be in a place to be a supportive partner, friend, or family member right now. They might be lashing out, avoiding you, or otherwise being hurtful to be close to. Consider seeing a therapist that specializes in helping people with addiction yourself to help work through these emotions.
PEOPLE RECOVER, PEOPLE WIN
When we talk about addition we tend to become fatalistic. Addiction is serious and it can be scary, but the hope is never lost. People recover from even the most severe addictions every day. Families come together, partners heal, friendships form. The path to recovery can get difficult at times, but it is still the path out of addiction. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be a good ally to your recovering loved one. Reach out to us if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction.
Article published by Spero Recovery