Addiction is a disease that doesn’t just impact the person using, it sends ripples across their entire network of family and friends. If you happen to be connected to someone who has a dependency, your role can be incredibly powerful on both sides of the coin. On the one hand, you may be that crucial support system; providing encouragement every step of the way, but it’s just as easy (consciously or not) to become the enabler or someone whose poor boundaries may actually do more harm than good. For the purposes of this latest blog, we wanted provide an educational checklist for anyone who has a loved one in recovery.
#1) Stay Supportive and Set an Example
Whether it’s during the recovery process or after a relative has come home, unconditional support is critical. This means cooperating with the treatment center and making yourself available for visits, letter writing, phone calls and healing sessions. There are certainly times when therapy groups bring out old skeletons you may not want to hear about, but for the welfare of your family member, it is important to listen, share and and accept responsibility for any toxicity your relationship may have caused. After treatment, you and other relatives may be called upon to make lifestyle changes yourself, maintaining a drug- and alcohol-free environment for your loved one. Though you may feel that your habits are under control, this is a vital step to keep prior cravings out of your loved one’s life.
#2) Set Boundaries and Avoid Enablement
Honestly, setting boundaries and avoiding enabling the person receiving treatment can be one of the hardest recovery issues a loved one has to deal with. Seeing someone you care for dealing with pain and desperation is excruciating, but giving in to their habits with cash handouts, lax monitoring or even drugs and alcohol can be far worse. Family members can be extremely vulnerable after leaving treatment, which means this is the time that “tough love” is needed most. No matter how hard it is keep them from relapsing, Stand Firm. More importantly, keep a close eye on any signals that your loved one may be relapsing. If it feels like your loved one is lying to you, confront them about it. If you see bad influences coming back into their life, take action. Don’t ignore subtle changes either, such as poor hygiene or odd sleep patterns. This is the time to set boundaries, to keep your loved one on a recovery regimen and to make sure they stick to it.
#3) Take Care of Yourself Too
We know, it’s hard to set a good example if you, yourself, are struggling. Dealing with an addicted loved one can be incredibly stressful. It is as important to emphasize the care and effort need to help a loved recover as it is for the caregivers to take care of their health and wellbeing. It is impossible to pour from an empty cup. It is for this reason, that we encourage you, the family caregiver, to build recovery networks of your own. Organizations like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are designed for the sole purpose of helping family members facing addiction. We also encourage you to maintain a strong connection to the people at your loved one’s recovery facility. These are mental health professionals who can provide support for you too. They have guided countless families through the treatment process and beyond and they will offer helpful tools to help relatives cope.Some other self care activities that families can engage in are journaling, group therapy and eexercising, all for the purpose of keeping you strong.
At Iris Healing Retreat, we understand that recovery goes far beyond the individual client. Our mission is to be a valuable resource for anyone impacted by addiction and are happy to engage with any friend or family member facing this difficult challenge.