If you have someone who has finally accepted addiction treatment, you can play a big role if you know how to support a friend during recovery. Being there for that friend or loved one can have a huge impact on their morale, their commitment, and the success of their treatment. When you have a relationship with someone who is trying to overcome their addiction, it can be difficult to understand how to support a loved one who is in recovery. But there are many ways to support them!
Support vs. Enabling
How does support differ from enabling? The general rule is to understand the difference between offering help and enabling them to continue their addiction. When framed in this manner, the choices become more clear: you should help only when it is directly contributing them to getting or staying in treatment. Here are some scenarios where you can provide help versus enabling:
- Giving a ride to an AA meeting because your friend lost their license
- Not loaning your friend money so he can go on a weekend getaway cause he “needs some time to think”
- Refusing to let a friend stay at your place for the weekend because they want to wait until Monday to check into rehab
- Not paying impound fees for your friend’s car so that they can drive to AA meetings on their own
Anything you do to delay treatment or to provide a potential escape from being actively participating in daily treatment is enabling. But staying firm in your decisions to not lend them money or not letting them stay over when intoxicated supports them in the long run.
“You’re not doing them any favors by loaning an addict money for rent, clothes, or car payments just so that they can delay getting treatment. For an addict, the motivation to seek treatment comes only with they are faced with consequences they cannot bare.”
How to Support a Loved One in Recovery
It may be tempting to want to loan them money because you think that preventing a serious hardship will only help support your friend’s recovery. The truth can be much darker. Your friend might have been running this same game with family and other friends before they asked you. The longer friends provide a safety net, the longer your friend will stay in active addiction. True support takes shape in only a few forms as in the following:
- Moral support
- Participation in recovery (i.e. driving them to meetings, attending addiction therapy services when asked)
- Researching continuing treatment options (i.e. sober living homes)
One aspect of support is a simple as paying attention or participating in the recovery journey. This does nothing to shield someone from negative consequences. Instead, providing compliments, celebration, or support as they meet milestones during recovery is a better way to show support. Yet we often hear from individuals in addiction recovery that they would have sought treatment long ago if friends and family weren’t so gullible at accepting their fake promises.
Cutting Out Enabling Habits
A family that gives their loved one an ultimatum to receive treatment is not terminating the relationship, but they have placed a condition upon it continuing. They have stated in no uncertain terms that they cannot force their loved one into recovery, but if they fail to cooperate, they’re on their own. This isn’t preaching, nagging, or lecturing, it is setting a condition of the relationship. Friends need to take the same stand if they truly care about the individual.
If you can provide help without enabling, we suggest that you do. Such opportunities exist usually only at two points during the addict’s journey: (1) early in an addictive problem, after the first crisis or two, before someone has established a history of twisting help into enabling, and (2) well into a recovery process, when it is clear that even without you the person is likely to continue to improve. Other than these two instances, you’ll need to be very careful.
Never, ever give money to someone in active addiction. Paying for treatment or transportation (taxi) to or from treatment is ok.
Supporting a Loved One Through Treatment
Help your loved one choose continued treatment and recovery solutions from a licensed addiction treatment center like Renaissance Recovery. There are many programs for any stage of active addiction and aftercare, including:
- Partial hospitalization program
- Intensive outpatient program
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Addiction therapy services
- Sober living homes at The District