The Person I Love Is in Recovery. How Should I Treat Them?

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If the person you love is in recovery, there are a few important things to keep in mind that will not only strengthen your connection with each other but also strengthen the relationship you have with yourself. While many of us have loved ones in recovery, some of us are the ones in recovery. We are all connected to someone who is experiencing or has experienced addiction at some point in their lives. Although we do not have to necessarily treat them or treat ourselves any differently than those who have not experienced addiction, we can always strive to be more intentional with our words and actions.

When Your Loved One Was Recently Admitted to Treatment

If your loved one is just beginning their recovery journey, congratulations to them! Many of us know how difficult that first step can be. Choosing to go to treatment is an outward sign that you believe you are more than your addiction. You may feel scared, confused, or worried for your loved one as they go through this experience, especially if you have not experienced it for yourself. But we can assure you that this is one of the most powerful and beneficial decisions that someone can make for themselves. Recovery is not an easy journey, but it’s always worth it.

Those first days or weeks at treatment may be incredibly difficult for your loved one. They may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms that take a huge toll on their physical and mental well-being. We suggest that you allow your loved one to take some necessary time for themselves by temporarily limiting contact with them. Many treatment centers do not allow phone calls for a set amount of time to allow new clients to turn inward with their thoughts and feelings. In the meantime, you could always write letters or send care packages to your loved one to show your support.

Your loved one should acclimate to their treatment experience after a few weeks. Depending on their length of stay, life may start to feel pretty weird for you without their presence around. One way to help your loved one in treatment is to handle some of their duties and responsibilities at home when you can. For example, maybe your loved one could use help with child or pet care while they are gone. Your loved one will appreciate the help, as this significantly reduces the stress and anxiety they may be experiencing while they are away.

When Your Loved One Is Back Home from Treatment

If your loved one recently returned home from treatment, there are many things you can do to help make the transition easier. Their return home should not pressure you to act any certain way. Instead, perhaps you can think of ways to act more intentionally towards your loved one.

To do this, think about what you would expect from your loved one if roles were reversed. For example, one of the most supportive things you can do for your loved one is to clear the home of any alcohol and/or drugs that may trigger relapse. You can also consider what other items, objects, or photos in the home may trigger a stress response in your loved one and clear those out as well.

Your loved one is probably over the moon to see you after being away for so long. Above all else, show acts of gratitude towards them. Make sure they know how proud of them you are and that you are here to support their long-term recovery in any way you can. When considering how to treat your loved one, the most important thing to remember is that they want to feel loved and supported. They want you to be proud of where they are headed!

When Your Loved One Is in Long-Term Recovery

Maybe the person you love has been in recovery for a long time. Maybe you did not know them when they began their recovery journey. Or maybe you have been with them from the start of it all. No matter what the situation is, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Put yourself first. Addiction affects everyone. It’s typical for family and friends to want to place the needs of their loved one above their own needs, but this is a clear lack of self-care. Always be invested in your personal needs. This will leave you better able to help your loved one through their recovery journey when they rely on you for support.
  • Use your love to fuel your recovery. Because addiction is so complex, destructive behaviors tend to surface without conscious awareness of them. Avoid saying things like, “If you really loved me, you would never drink again.” Instead, use your love to fuel your faith in your loved one. Remind them that you are always supporting them and that they will never be alone.
  • Understand that recovery is not linear. Supporting your loved one’s recovery is a lifelong process. Although sobriety is the goal, relapse can and does happen. They need you to be a reliable support system for them throughout their recovery journey.

Jaywalker Lodge knows how difficult it can be to understand the recovery process, especially if you have not experienced it yourself. Whether your loved one has recently been admitted to treatment, just returned home, or has been in recovery for a long time, there are many things you can do to contribute to a successful recovery for them. A life in recovery is meant to be enjoyed. No one wants the pressure of saying or doing the wrong thing — instead, focus on being intentional with your actions and words. Jaywalker Lodge understands that recovery is a lifelong process, and we specialize in helping men who’ve had difficulty staying sober in the past find lasting recovery. Many of us here are experiencing lifelong recovery for ourselves. We’d love to help your loved one experience it, too! To learn more, call Jaywalker Lodge now at (866) 529-9255

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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