Family and friends can be a valuable asset for the recovering addict. They offer support, encouragement and, when necessary, tough love. The moment someone in addiction makes the decision to get help, everyone in his or her immediate circle is involved in the process. Every burden, trial and failure along the recovery path is suddenly a shared experience.
If you know someone who is courageously moving forward in their sobriety, here are 6 ways you can provide support and comfort to keep him or her going.
1. Get involved in their recovery.
Actively search for information regarding your loved one’s addiction, the types of recovery programs available and the steps you can take to help in his or her walk. You can even attend support group meetings, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, or family therapy sessions with or without the addict. Even if you’re not the one struggling with an addiction, your life is nevertheless affected and will continue to be as your loved one is working through his or her situation.
2. Verbally express your love and support.
Your role as the recovering addict’s support system involves letting them know how important he or she is to you and your life. Talk to each other on a daily basis even if he or she may seem reluctant at first. Don’t do anything along the lines of saying how disappointed you are, preaching, threatening or bribing your loved one. Instead, get on board by rewarding the recovering addict for milestones he or she might have achieved along the way and let them know how proud you are of their ongoing progress.
3. Encourage them to keep a journal.
Some recovering addicts may be intimidated by having to express their thoughts and feelings out loud. They tend to not trust people and may shy away from voicing their innermost thoughts. To help your loved one with this, suggest that he or she keep a journal. Encourage your addict to keep track of the positive things that are happening in his or her life on a daily basis, even if it’s just one simple thing to be grateful for each day. There may very well be days when someone in recovery is just thankful for a new chance at life. Even if that’s the case, remind him or her that it is still significant enough of an event to jot down and make a note of..
4. Engage in new activities together.
Spur some excitement into your loved one’s life by planning small outings with family and friends or participating in productive activities. You can spend an afternoon at the park or zoo, visit the library, start a garden or paint a room togehter. If your loved one once had a favorite hobby before the addiction, encourage him or her to give it another go or suggest new inspiring hobbies to try. The important thing is to prevent your recovering addict from getting bored in sobriety and to keep things lighthearted and fun.
5. Invite them to volunteer.
Senior centers, food pantries and local charitable centers are always looking for volunteers. Invite your loved one to donate his or her time and efforts for a good cause and try your best to go together for the first few weeks. If he or she is an animal-lover, you can even try going to a local animal shelter and offering to take the dogs out for walks on certain days of the week. Whatever you and your addicted loved one decide to do, you will both have the opportunity to feel positive for giving back as well as spend some time focused on something outside of the addiction itself.
6. Be physically active.
Exercise benefits both physical and mental health, so encourage your loved one to set a fitness goal. You can suggest some strength training or an exercise class at the local gym. There are, of course, also less intensive options such as going for a swim, a light jog or any other easy recreational activities. One of the best ways to get someone in recovery motivated is to live an active and healthy lifestyle yourself. So dust off your sneakers, get outside and start walking (literally) alongside your addict in his or her journey.
Remember, change isn’t easy for anyone. But being surrounded by supportive and loving family and friends will make anyone’s situation easier, especially the addict’s. Just as your loved one is living life one day at a time and doing the best he or she can in recovery, you too can do your part in being the best cheerleader and source of comfort you can be with these practical tips.