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How To Help A Friend Or Loved One Who Is In Treatment

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

Medically reviewed by

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

April 8, 2019

Even though your loved one may be checked into a long-term facility, there are a variety of ways in which you can provide support and help that gives your struggling loved one reassurance that they have caring, understanding people in their life.

During the course of drug and alcohol rehabilitation, many struggling with addiction will need certain changes in their lives to help support the decision they made to become and stay sober. As a friend, support in a variety of ways is the best form of help to give someone while they take the long and arduous journey toward recovery. It is important to remember that the journey never really ends for your loved one. Recovery is similar to being in remission from a disease like cancer. Your loved one’s disease will not truly ever go away. Support is something that will, therefore, be needed forever.

Communication:

Support comes from a number of places when speaking about drug rehabilitation and recovery. Like many parts of your loved one’s life changes, he must either let go of certain people around him or have some understanding of what he needs in order to remain sober going forward. To begin supporting your loved one, open the lines of communication and make sure you acknowledge the changes that need to take place.

You can show an effort by firstly learning about your loved one’s disease and knowing that it is not something that he chose to have plague him. While he made poor decisions in doing drugs in the first place, becoming physically and mentally dependent on drugs or alcohol is usually not a choice anyone makes. Communicate with your loved one, let him know that you: 1. Know that he is struggling with a disease. 2. Are able and wanting to help him in any healthy way you can. 3. Have faith in his getting better. 4. Will continue to support him while he goes forward in life.

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Assistance:

An important part of rehabilitation is focusing on getting better and letting other parts of life go for the time being. While your loved one goes through this process, know that your help can suffice to get him through the next steps of the journey. During your moments of communication, let your loved one know that you’re able to assist him with what he needs. Make sure you are not handicapping him in any way when you provide assistance, as this can set someone back in their treatment. Handicapping can include giving someone money, letting them move in with you, and allowing them to let the responsibility fall on your shoulders.

Healthy assistance can be: making sure your loved one’s bills get paid (with their money), educating others on the disease and modes of support, making arrangements for sober living, helping take care of children and pets, getting small tasks done that will make life easier, such as oil changes and lawn mowing.

Without overburdening yourself, lending a helping hand at this time is crucial. The last thing anyone needs when they leave treatment is to come home to another toxic or stressful situation that they have trouble coping with. Anything you can do to lighten the stress, without taking away responsibility, which is imperative to maintain, will be helpful.

Cleansing:

The cleansing of one’s life goes beyond simple assistance. Your loved one will have many changes to make on his own when he finishes treatment. What you and others can do is help by making the various environments he returns to safe and healthy. This starts with his home. Anything toxic needs to be removed before he returns. While he may be in an outpatient program, this is still something you can help with after communicating to him that you would like to do this as a method of support. If he has any substance in his house that lends to addiction, it needs to be removed. No temptations, regardless of your loved one’s specific addiction, should be readily available.

Another cleansing method is outside of the home. Help your loved one to see what and who should be set aside or removed from life. This may be difficult for him to come to terms with, but while he is in treatment, he will learn that having other users in his life, partying, and living in unhealthy situations all contribute to a difficult recovery. Brief others on this notion and make sure that they are not inviting him to go out to bars, spend late nights out, or be around people who are not in recovery and are doing drugs.

Involvement:

Many steps of recovery are ones your loved one must take alone, but there are ways in which you and others can be involved in his rehabilitation and ongoing recovery. Regardless of where or how he is seeking treatment, therapy sessions involving groups and families are wonderful ways to continue healthy communication. Attending these sessions can be your idea and when you approach the subject, do so in a positive way, letting him know that you are very happy that he is moving toward a better place in life and that you think going to family therapy together could help even more.

Beyond therapy, there are groups of all kinds that meet regularly. These groups are for family members, friends, and spouses and they inform, educate, and support YOU, while you continue to show support for your loved one. Make attending groups a priority and also attend them with your loved one. Some group meetings welcome loved ones in order to provide a level of understanding that is often not received in private settings. During group sessions, be prepared to hear about the life of addiction in a way that may be upsetting, but will ultimately reinforce in your mind and heart the idea of support and love for your addicted loved one.

Future:

The future of recovery is always an unknown. While we would all love to believe that once rehabilitation is over, everything is finally going to be okay and the struggle your loved one faces with drugs or alcohol will end, that is simply untrue. Life without drugs will be difficult and be full of obstacles. Future support from you and others will be imminent now and forever.

While it isn’t your job to become a sponsor to your loved one, being ready for the bumps in the road and knowing who to turn to in a time of need is important. During darker moments in life, be ready to reach out and show that you are available. Continue to provide healthy assistance throughout life and know that there will always be room for you to help in your own way. Life may separate you from your loved one at some point, but always reach out and make a point to check up on him. Send cards on special occasions or difficult times, show love in various ways and be ready to support him in moments of difficulty.

Helping Now And Later

Always know that addiction is a disease and that your loved one will face it for the rest of his life. Life will bring about many changes and challenges that will, at times, threaten sobriety. Be ready to show support, provide assistance, and give love through the years.

If you or a loved one is in need of help, contact RehabCenter.net for assistance in seeking treatment and getting advice. Reach out today for a healthy future.

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