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How to Support those in Recovery

Learn, Listen, and Love

When our loved ones enter addiction recovery, we want to do everything we can to prevent a relapse. Through learning, listening, and loving you can provide the support your loved one needs.

1. Learn

You should not only support your loved one’s efforts to understand and move past addiction, but find out for yourself how addiction has affected you and how you have affected your loved one’s addiction. Learn more about addiction by reading books or blogs or by talking to others who share your experiences. When invited, participate in group therapy session. It is equally important for you to receive individual counseling in order to process what has happened and to help you prevent it in the future. During the treatment process, you probably have realized the way you enabled your loved one’s addiction. To help them maintain healthy behavior and avoid relapse, you need to understand how your actions affect your loved ones and how to offer healthy forms of support. An objective third-party will help you create self-awareness, acquire the tools you need, and learn about yourself.

2. Listen

You and your loved one can learn a lot by listening to one another. You will hear difficult things as you learn about your loved one’s addiction. They might make you defensive or sad. They might not even be true. Rather than immediately responding, however, take the time to listen. Simply being available and attentive can make an enormous difference for someone in recovery. Listening is about being present for someone and cultivating an awareness of their thoughts or feelings. You know that your loved one is not “fine.” Allow him or her to explain the situation in their own time. Words might not always be true, but listening will help your loved one feel emotionally supported.

3. Love

It is just as important for your loved one to express love as it is for him or her to receive it. During recovery, your loved one needs to feel like he or she has something to offer, a value to his or her loved ones. Sometimes asking for a small favor or a simple errand provides you the the opportunity to convey appreciation and trust, and expresses love in a non-verbal way. These and more obvious acts of love, such as saying “I love you” or giving a hug fosters a deeper, healthier, and more rewarding connection between you and your loved one. That connection makes a tremendous difference to both of you, and is the best way to show support.

Feelings of isolation, worthlessness, and despair led your loved on to the path of addiction, and many people in recovery struggle with guilt, shame, and remorse. To maintain sobriety, your loved one must feel understood by, connected to, valued by others. It is important for your loved one to take responsibility and make amends, but it is equally important that you forgive the past. Providing understanding, support, and love will help you cultivate a meaningful present and ward off negative emotions that threaten your loved one’s recovery.

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