How to Support a Loved One Who is in Recovery

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

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Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

If you have someone who has finally accepted addiction treatment, you can play a big role if you know how to support someone in 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.

Today, we’ll take a look at a few things that you can do to help support someone while they are in recovery or maybe even while they are receiving treatment at a rehab like Renaissance Recovery. Let’s get into it.

Support Recovery Without 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 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 the daily treatment is enabling. But staying firm in your decisions to not lend them money or not letting them stay over when intoxicated support 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 bear.”

There is a fine line between supporting and enabling a loved one and it may seem like doing something like giving them money while they are in a difficult time is the right thing to do, but it may only make the situation worse. If you know that your loved one is dealing with a substance abuse issue and aren’t sure what you should do to help them, it is best to seek out professional help.

Call our team at Renaissance Recovery to discuss options and what you can do to help your loved one.

How to Support Someone 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:

  1. Moral support
  2. Participation in recovery (i.e. driving them to meetings, attending addiction therapy services when asked)
  3. Researching continuing treatment options (i.e. sober living homes)

One aspect of support is as 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.

How to Support Someone in Rehab

Rehab, whether it is outpatient or inpatient rehab, can be a difficult process. Individuals can feel weak, irritable, angry, tired, and more while going through the treatment process to help them overcome substance abuse and start a new sober journey.

If your loved one is in rehab currently and you aren’t sure how you can help them in their journey, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Ask them
  2. Ask the treatment center

These are two simple ways to learn what you can be doing differently to help your loved one during this stressful period. Some simple things that could go a long way toward supporting their new lifestyle would be:

  • Drive them to and from outpatient rehab
  • Get rid of alcohol and drugs that are in the house
  • Encourage them to exercise, and even go with them
  • Help them plan or cook healthy, nutrient-rich meals

These are just a few things but all of this will help support them in their new healthy lifestyle. Take some time to learn what you can do to help your loved one. Making these changes can not only help them but can even improve your well-being as well.

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.

Support Your Loved One by Participating in Family Therapy

Addiction is a family disease, with the consequences rippling far beyond the person using substances.

Whether your loved one is already engaged with addiction treatment or still contemplating recovery, family therapy may be a component of their treatment plan. Research suggests that addiction treatment programs utilizing family therapy often deliver more favorable long-term outcomes than those that don’t.

The role of the family in addiction is complex. Some family members may be beneficial to the recovery of another family member addicted to drink or drugs, while others may be detrimental to their recovery.

What can you expect if you attend a family therapy session, then?

What Does Family Therapy Involve?

Family therapy sessions take place at a treatment center or in the family home. A qualified family therapist will act as a neutral intermediary, conducting problem-solving and discussion sessions. The therapist will work with the family as a unit and will also work with individual family members.

There is one core goal of family therapy: identifying the relationship dynamics triggering stress or negativity. From here, you will work with the therapist to improve these dynamics and therefore your relationships with family members.

You can learn through family therapy sessions how you may be contributing to your loved one’s addiction, and you should become equipped with better communication skills and conflict-resolution skills as a result.

Nothing will inspire your loved one like knowing the whole family is behind them in their recovery.

learn how to support a loved one in recovery at Renaissance Recovery

Rehab at Renaissance Recovery

Help your loved one choose continued treatment and recovery solutions from a licensed Orange County rehab like Renaissance Recovery. There are many programs to help clients who are dealing with various substance abuse problems. Things like cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and more are used during the addiction treatment process.

Contact Renaissance Recovery today by calling us to learn more about how to support a loved one in recovery.

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Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

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Paige R

“They truly cared for me and the other people that I served with! From this group, I have made 8 new brothers and friends for life! We have continued on, after the program, to take care of each other”

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Courtney S

“Great staff who took the time to get to know me. They have a lot of experience in this field and have first hand experience with what I was going through. IOP is outstanding and really built up a ton of great relationships and found this program to be a ‘breath of fresh air’.”

Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country