While you may be thrilled to hear that your loved one is taking steps to pursue recovery and overcome an addiction they’ve been battling, you might also feel a little bit helpless. Can you help them during this part of their journey? What can you say to encourage them, but also set good boundaries for everyone? Should you intervene at all, or is that their therapist’s job?
These are all great questions, and important ones to ask, but the short answer is you have a significant role to play in your loved one’s treatment journey.
How can I support a family member’s recovery?
Your loved one’s success in residential treatment therapy is heavily dependent on the support of the people around them. While they will begin to form friendships with the community of people they’ll meet in the treatment facility, knowing that they have the support of their close friends and family can make a huge impact on the success of their time in treatment.
Take the time to learn
If you are not well-versed in the topic of addiction or addiction treatment, it would benefit both yourself and your loved one to take some intentional time to educate yourself on the particular mental health struggle they are facing. Learn how particular addictions can co-occur with other mental health disorders; take the time to familiarize yourself with the way in which certain drugs impact both the body and brain and the recovery process necessary to heal those unique hurts; and understand how the treatment is designed to address those wounds.
By educating yourself, you can have a more personal, gentle and empathetic response to your loved one. Your conversations will become even more helpful to your loved one, as they are based on a mutual understanding of what they’re going through.
It’s important to listen without thinking about what you want to say next. Your loved one has so much to process and discuss now that they’re in treatment. Show them you’re there to be a judgment-free listener by expressing your support and then allowing them to talk.
This opens the door to an honest and empathetic conversation. It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed when a loved one confides in you, especially when it concerns specific substance use details, but this ability to share with you can provide them with a much-needed outlet through which to process their experiences and emotions.
Show your support
Go to family therapy sessions, show up for visitation hours or write them letters while they’re in treatment. Make comforting dinners for them, create a safe environment in the home or agree to be an accountability partner for them. These ways, and more, can prove to your loved one just how strongly you support their decisions and how you’ll continue to be present to them throughout the process.
By showing your support in ways that speak to your loved one, you can boost their commitment to recovery — we’re all influenced by the people around us, and knowing that the important people in their lives are in support of their treatment can significantly boost their motivation and commitment to these lifestyle changes.
Know what you’re dealing with
Gaining insight into your loved one’s struggles can greatly benefit both of you on more difficult days. Struggles with mental illness and addiction mean lots of challenging emotions, experiences and roller coaster-like progress.
There may be times when your friend, family member or peer may be at a low point, in need of greater intervention. As someone involved in their recovery, you need to learn to tell the difference between venting and a serious cry for help. It’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the signs of suicide and self-harm or take part in family support services to learn when and how to intervene, and when to seek further assistance.
There will be plenty of time to have conversations with your loved one, but sometimes you can say a lot more just by being present to them. They’re going to be having a lot of conversations with their therapist and members of their support group, and might just need you to be a breath of fresh air in the midst of a lot of recovery talk.
Going to a zoo, seeing a movie or hiking in a local park are great ways to spend time with your loved one; even building a puzzle at home or cooking dinner or brunch together can provide them with some much-needed quality time. And it can be helpful for you, too, to remember that supporting your loved one’s recovery can be as simple as homemade pizza and a tv show on a Friday night.
Support throughout residential treatment
Residential addiction treatment is a crucial, yet intensive time in the recovery of your loved one. You, as a family member, peer or close friend, have a unique ability to show your support for your loved one’s recovery in more ways than one. But always remember — it’s just as important to take care of yourself during this time in order to also take care of your loved one.
If you’re seeking addiction or mental health treatment for yourself or residential treatment options for a loved one, contact Silvermist Recovery by calling us at 724-268-4858 to learn more about our addiction treatment programs.