Family members are an important part of each individual’s recovery journey. As a parent, brother, sister, spouse, grandparent, or friend, you have a very important role in your loved one’s transition from addiction to sobriety. Family members often develop unhealthy behaviors to cope with someone else’s addiction and you may have even unknowingly supported their habit without realizing it. As a result, committing to some behavioral and mental changes of your own will contribute to the healing of the entire family unit and encourage your loved one to maintain their sobriety.
If your loved one is currently enrolled in a sober living program, there are several ways you can provide support and assist them as they continue to change their lifestyle for the better. Here are six specific ways to provide support throughout your loved one’s sober living experience.
1. Encourage Them
You can provide encouragement in so many ways. Whether you write a letter, send an uplifting text message every week, or simply tell them how proud you are of their progress, verbal and written encouragement can help your loved one stay motivated and committed. Even just showing interest in their program and asking questions about what they’re learning, how they’re doing, and how you can help are all things you can do on a daily basis to provide encouragement.
2. Be There to Listen
In early recovery, unexpected life events can cause additional stress that may make a person crave the relief drugs and alcohol used to provide. One of the best things you can do to support your loved one is to make yourself available to listen. If you know your loved one is going through a difficult time, meet with them at your house or a coffee shop and talk to them about the problem. Remind them of coping strategies they can use to manage the stress and help them solve problems when appropriate. This might include giving them a ride to IOP if their car breaks down or helping them fill out a job application. Making time to listen and talk to your loved one will help them process stressful experiences in a healthy way and also encourage sustained sobriety.
3. Remove Substances from Your Home
If you know your loved one has made a commitment to not drink alcohol, one of the easiest ways to provide support is by simply removing all alcoholic beverages from your home. The same is true for someone recovering from drug abuse. Moving prescription drugs out of the medicine cabinet and into a safe, locked location is an effective way to remove temptation and also prepare for their return back home.
Additionally, while your loved one will be busy with IOP, volunteering, work, or school while enrolled in a sober living program, they will likely still have some free time to spend with you as well. Make an effort to spend that time in a social situation that does not involve substance use. Instead of going to a bar, go bowling. Or instead of heading to a tailgating party where beer is abundantly present, go for a bike ride or see a movie at the theater. In doing this, you are not only helping them avoid temptation, but you’re also showing them that there are plenty of ways to have sober fun.
4. Introduce Them to Sober Friends
Building a sober peer network will help your loved one maintain their abstinence and build meaningful, healthy relationships with others who support their sobriety goals. Now that your loved one is out of rehab, he or she will be faced with a choice: hang out with old substance-using friends or make new ones. It’s easy to fall back into old habits with old friends and making new friends isn’t always easy, especially while making such a huge transition. You can help a loved one build a healthy, sober peer network by introducing them to great sober people that you know and trust and discussing ways they can potentially meet new sober friends in their area.
5. Attend Family Therapy
In some instances, it may be appropriate and encouraged that you attend family therapy with your loved one. If so, you should make every effort to attend as often as required. Just as addiction is a family disease, recovery is a family endeavor as well. Effective addiction treatment should involve the family unit and by attending, you are not only making an outward commitment to support your loved one, but you are also making an internal commitment to adjust and change some of your own unhealthy behaviors and thoughts. During family therapy you will gain additional understanding of your loved one’s addiction and learn about different tools and strategies for effective communication, healing, and healthy relationship-building practices.
6. Familiarize Yourself with Relapse Risks and Prevention
Relapse looks different for everyone, but the more familiar you are with your loved one’s relapse risks, warning signs, and prevention plan, the more equipped you’ll be to help them recover from it. Take the time to sit down with your loved one and discuss red flags and warning signs of relapse. Determine what you will will do and how you will do it if you begin to recognize a relapse. You may also want to discuss your loved one’s relapse prevention plan with their treatment provider to gain additional resources and advice on how to recognize and handle a relapse situation.
There are plenty of other ways you can support a loved one in sober living, but these are just a few ways you can get started today. If you’re interested in learning more about family involvement in sober living programs at Eudaimonia Recovery Homes, please contact your loved one’s program coordinator to find out more.