Living With a Recovering Drug Addict or Alcoholic

nderstanding what is involved in living with a recovering alcoholic or drug addict, you can be better prepared to assist with recovery and offer support to help prevent the potential of relapse.

If you’ve lived with a drug addict or alcoholic, you know that addiction doesn’t just affect the addict—it affects friends and family as well as recovery. Because recovery is a lifelong process, your loved one won’t be “cured” once he or she comes back from treatment. You play an important role in supporting the life changes required for long-term recovery for your loved one.

 Family in Recovery

Living With an Addict?

Alcohol abuse and substance abuse not only affects the individual with the problem but also the entire family. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that an important part of a customized substance abuse treatment regimen is to address every element of life.

This includes:

  • The provision of mental health and medical services.

  • The development of recovery support systems that are family-based.

  • This structure  can be critical to success in achieving and continuing a sober lifestyle.

5 Important Tips for Living With a Recovering Addict

1. Understand Extended Problems

The consequences of an addiction can affect your family for a long time.

Even though your family member may have successfully completed treatment, the consequences of addiction could continue to affect the rest of the family for a long time to come.

Typical Challenges After Rehab

As a result of the addiction, you may face ongoing hardships, such as:

  • Relationship Issues

  • Health problems.

  • Financial Problems

Ways to Address These Challenges

You can take some steps to help alleviate some of the stress of different hardships.

  • Meet with a financial adviser. They can help you based on your financial needs, as well as help you plan your short-term and long-term needs. If necessary, you can also take out a loan until you feel that your finances are more secured.

  • Encourage regular doctor visits for your family member. Just because he or she has completed rehabilitation doesn’t mean health problems aren’t lingering.

  • Attend family-based therapy. You can learn to practice honest and open communication within relationships.

2. Become Educated and Stay Involved as Much as Possible

In most cases, drug use significantly changes the lives of all those close to the addict—none more so than the immediately family. For this reason, the family often needs help, too.

Many drug and alcohol treatment facilities provide education for family members on topics such as how addiction works and how to handle stress.

The entire family needs to be involved in the treatment as well as the recovery process. To do this, the family will need to learn the best ways to support the recovering addict. Agreeing to participate in family education is a great way to support the addict’s recovery. These programs are key to restoring the health of the family unit after addiction.

3.  The Importance of Supporting Sobriety

One of the most important things that a family needs to be aware of when living with a recovering alcoholic or drug addict is the importance of family members maintaining an alcohol- or drug-free and sober lifestyle.

Keeping someone in recovery away from the temptation of using is essential, especially in the first year of recovery. This is why many people prefer inpatient rehab programs; they get the addict away from the environment in which they were using.

Get Rid of Substances in the Home

Ideally, a home should be completely emptied of any substances that could be intoxicating. If your family has always kept alcohol or other substances on hand for social events or special occasions, it may be necessary for everyone to make a lifestyle change to support a loved one during recovery.

Find New Activities

The family can participate in activities and hobbies consistent with a substance-free lifestyle.

Fun Sober Activities

  • Play a sport together.

  • Ride bikes.

  • Go the movies or a play.

  • Work on a garden.

  • Host a potluck.

  • Make crafts.

  • Play card or board games.

4. Obtain Support for Yourself

Just as the individual in recovery will require support from family and friends, it will also be important for family members to have support.

Many family support groups can provide encouragement to help people cope with the emotional and physical stress that can accompany supporting an individual in recovery.

Seeking support for yourself can also have an additional benefit. When your recovering family member sees you asking for support, they may be more likely to seek out support on their own in the form of recovery and aftercare support services.

5. Reduce Stress

Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts may be more susceptible to stress and, in turn, to relapse. Some of the most common sources for stress among individuals in recovery include:

  • Family conflicts.

  • Relationships.

  • Work.

  • School.

  • Health concerns.

  • Finances.

Understanding what to expect and how to help a recovering alcoholic or drug addict proceed with recovery can prove to be beneficial. You can offer them resources that can help with stress, such as relationship counseling, adult education, therapy and support groups. In addition, it’s important to focus on yourself and manage your own stress.

 Find Ways to Deal With Stress

Here are some  proven stress relief options  for you and your loved one include:

  • Journaling.

  • Meditating

  • Exercising.

  • Breathing steadily.

  • Encourage open and honest communication.

  • They will often need time to adjust to life outside of treatment.

  • Promote a supportive and comfortable environment for he or she to adapt.

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