Although it doesn’t exactly happen overnight, it’s definitely not very difficult to become addicted. There are many people who, for whatever reason, begin abusing substances and come to find themselves having become physiologically dependent on the substance or substances they were abusing. Despite knowing the high rates of addiction that we see today, it seems that the majority of people assume that addiction couldn’t happen to them. This kind of thinking in which people assume that they’re the exception to the rule, or that the people who became addicts were somehow weaker than they are, is precisely why there are so many people becoming addicted all the time.
With as easy as it is to become addicted, it seems almost ironic that it would be so difficult to get sober again. In fact, even with the variety of addiction treatments and recovery resources that we have at our disposal, there’s still much uncertainty when it comes to addiction recovery. Each person who becomes addicted and embarks on the road to recovery requires different types of treatment, different services and resources to get their lives back. It’s not something that’s as simple as checking items off a grocery list; instead, it’s almost as though addiction recovery is a trial-by-error type of situation with each recovering addict sort of figuring it out as they go along.
Granted, people in recovery from addiction aren’t simply stumbling around in the dark. The rehabilitation facilities that are available — more than 14,000 in the U.S. alone — employ physicians and counselors and other staff members who know a great deal about addiction and can guide recovering addicts through each facility’s curricula, ensuring that each individual receives only the treatments that best address his or her recovery needs as efficiently as possible.
But just as people who haven’t experienced addiction are largely unable to understand what it feels like to be addicted, addicts can’t usually imagine what it feels like to discover they have a loved one who’s been secretly addicted. Realizing that a loved one is an addict may answer certain questions about his or her recent behaviors, but that doesn’t fix any of the damage that the addict might have caused while in pursuit of alcohol or drugs. This situation can make it difficult to be the encouraging supporter the addict needs once he or she begins the recovery process. Therefore, the following are some tips that will help you meet a recovering addict halfway.
First and foremost, you need to disregard — at least temporarily — any grudges or resentments you may have toward the addict. When an addict first detoxes and gets sober, there’s a flood of emotion since they’re not being numbed with alcohol or drugs, and a big part of those emotions is guilt. Rest assured that he or she feels immense shame for his or her behaviors in the recent past, but at this point it’s essential that the individual be able to focus on overcoming addiction before he or she is able to begin addressing your hurt feelings or righting any of his or her prior wrongs. There’s a time and place for everything, but early recovery is not the time nor is it the place to be guilt-tripping your addicted loved one. It is imperative that you do your part and try to begin trusting them again and to not use their old ways against them.
As human beings, we have an innate desire to care for one another. Some of us have a much more prominent or strong nurturing instinct than others, but we all care about certain others and want to ensure their well-being. This feeling is often heightened during those times when people are in particular need of care such as when they’re sick or injured. In early recovery when your addicted loved one is feeling emotional and uncomfortable much of the time, you may become so caught up in his or her recovery that you begin neglecting your own needs, but it’s very important that you continue making sure that you’re eating regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and meeting other basic needs. After all, you can’t provide care for anyone else if your own situation is bleak.
If your addicted loved one’s recovery is your first encounter with addiction, take this opportunity to learn as much about the disease as you can. Learning about addiction is beneficial for a million different reasons, but some of the main ones include becoming knowledge about what you should and shouldn’t do to help your loved one in his or her recovery, getting a better understanding of how and why your loved one behaved the way he or she did while in active addiction, and so on. When you have learned about addiction, you’ll have a much more enlightened understanding of your loved one and, in turn, will have a much better understanding of many of his or her recent behaviors as well as what the future holds for your addicted loved one.
People in recovery are frequently encouraged to join support groups. The most common support group for people in recovery are twelve-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Sex Addicts Anonymous, which are also referred to as recovery fellowships. These are places where addicts can network with others who have had similar experiences, are experiencing similar thoughts and feelings, and where addicts can go to find and give support to others who are going through recovery. You might be surprised to learn that there are actually twelve-step and other types of support groups for the friends and family members of addicts. One of the most popular of these groups is Al-Anon, which is essentially the equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous for the alcoholics’ loved ones. Joining one of these support groups will provide you with an invaluable resource, which is to learn that others have been in your exact situation. You’ll also learn how they’ve dealt with many of the same experiences you’ve had, and many people start lasting friendships with people they’ve met in these support groups for addicts’ loved ones. These support groups are invaluable when you are in the process of meeting your addict halfway while they struggle to stay sober.
If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation with one of our recovery specialists, call Intervention Services toll-free at 877-478-4621. We’re available anytime, day or night, to help you or your loved one begin the journey from addiction to long-lasting sobriety.