You have a loved one who is in addiction recovery, and you want to do the right things to help them. How do you know what’s right and what’s wrong, and what can you do to make their lives better?
When you think about helping your loved one in the addiction recovery process, start with thinking about this: the more you try to help them, the less you do for them. I know it may not make sense to many of you. Realizing that when your loved one is in addiction recovery, the more you do to help them, the more you’re actually harming them. It is a difficult concept to grasp, but then, nobody said understanding addiction would be easy.
Addiction and recovery are unlike anything else because almost everything you do to help a person normally is the opposite of what you do for a person abusing substances. Just to be clear, this still doesn’t mean that a person in addiction recovery for five years should be treated in the same manner as a person in recovery for six months. You’ll need to determine what the right timeframe is for your situation, as there are no absolutes when it comes to the addiction recovery process.
The first thing I would suggest while helping them is to find an addiction recovery program for yourself. I know you don’t have the problem, they do, right? So, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but they aren’t alone. You should have figured out, if you’re in any kind of support group, that addiction truly is a family disease.
You are most likely suffering from something called codependence. Codependence is a problem for you as much as it is for them, and you probably aren’t aware that you have it. It means that you have an innate need to be needed. You love to do for others what they can do for themselves because it validates their need for you. The more they need you, the better you feel. Most people are codependent in their makeup in a small way. It’s when the balance is skewed that it becomes an issue. Family of addicts often spend more time trying to help their addicts than taking care of themselves. That’s unhealthy for everyone. I suggest you check our support groups for family and friends.
The second thing is not to try to control your loved one. It’s their journey and their choices. It may hurt to watch them make choices you wouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean they are doomed. It means they see things in ways you don’t. They will make bad choices, have no fear. Hopefully, they won’t be fatal decisions, and the events won’t return them to abusing drugs. However, addiction is a journey filled with recovery and relapses. The objective is to reduce the frequency and duration of each relapse and increase the time of recovery.
Supporting a recovering addict is confusing and requires discipline, love, and a strong sense of self. By not doing for others what they can do for themselves, you’ve started to help in the right way. Love them, support their addiction recovery process, and focus on living your own life.