As someone who cares for an addicted individual in recovery, you’re probably eager to put the damage caused by substance abuse behind you. By taking the time to understand what recovery is really like for your loved one, you can help him or her heal while also reducing the risk of relapse — and take steps towards a healthier future, together.
Accepting Stress and Learning to Relax
The side effects of addiction include long lasting depression, anxiety, and irritability that can last for months or more. Although living with a person who suffers from the symptoms isn’t easy, you can help your loved one by accepting that stress will be a part of your lives together. Both you and your loved one spent a long time managing his or her addiction and dealing with the emotions of residential care. Now that your loved one is home, you’ll need to adjust to a new routine once again.
Your loved one is practicing the coping skills he or she learned in rehab while dealing with the pressures of cravings, health problems, and professional or scholastic responsibilities — while also trying to rebuild trust with you and others he or she loves. Be patient, and lend a friendly ear. Avoid escalating conflicts with name-calling or shouting. Mild to moderate exercise, massage therapy, and listening to music are all effective ways to relieve stress, whether for yourself or your loved one. Meditating and journaling are also effective relaxation techniques.
It’s a Family Affair
Don’t forget that addiction takes a toll on everyone in the family, not only the individual who abused alcohol or drugs. Old habits — such as making excuses for your loved one’s behavior, or your loved one blaming intoxication on bad news or a big celebration — must make way for a new reality defined by abstinence. Family therapy can help you and your family heal. It can also help everyone communicate clearly, let go of resentment, and rebuild trust.
Don’t forget that family is family. Remind each other frequently that a sober future is a better future, and remember that every day is a new opportunity to share, grow, and love.