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Published On: May 7, 2021|Categories: Supporting a Loved One|

When one of your family members is struggling with substance abuse, you might feel useless, helpless and even confused by the situation. You might not understand the motivations behind their actions, the way the substance works on the brain or the mental and physical challenges faced when recovering from an addiction.

Nevertheless, no matter how you personally feel about the situation, you have a role to play – many of those who successfully saw recovery to completion insist on the impact a close-knit group of family and friends had on their recovery. So even if you don’t know what to do, there are plenty of ways you can begin to help. 

Take the time to educate yourself

Every substance, be it opioids, hallucinogens, marijuana or alcohol, affects the body and mind in a different way. In addition, factors such as length of use, dosage amounts, and personal medical history (including any mental health disorders) play a critical role in the way substance abuse affects a person. For this reason, family members need to remember the uniqueness of each situation when trying to understand the circumstances surrounding a substance use habit.

We are often frightened by what we don’t fully understand. And while substance use is a scary topic – especially when the subject is a close family member – learning about the particular substance, the way it operates and the physical difficulties it causes a person during detox and recovery not only removes the aspect of fear, but it gives you knowledge that promises to help you help your loved one.

Talk with your family member

Your loved one is probably experiencing many emotions in regards to struggling with substance abuse. Many people, even though they are aware of the dangers of substance use, struggle when trying to abandon the habit. They might not even know where to begin looking for help; they may feel guilt or shame, which prevents them from actively seeking treatment. 

Your role here could be promoting honesty and openness, encouraging your spouse, child or sibling to talk about their struggle in a safe environment. They themselves can help you better understand the struggle from their personal perspective, which in turn could open the door to avenues for recovery.

Help where you can

Obviously, you can’t heal your loved one overnight, no matter how desperately you want to. What you can do, however, is help in other ways that, although small, could have a significant impact in the long run. 

  • Offer to help in the search for a treatment center or substance use counselor
  • Volunteer to drive them to and from treatment sessions 
  • Help them create and stick to a medication management plan 
  • Take the time to attend family counseling sessions with them

Above all, during recovery, with all the threats of withdrawal and nasty side effects, it’s always important to be a voice of positivity and encouragement. Remind your loved one of how well they’re doing, tell them you’re proud of their progress and applaud their dedication. Recovery is a long and often exhausting road, so knowing they have you walking alongside them can be incredibly impactful.

Promote healthy habits

Take into consideration the substance your loved one struggled with, and rid your house of it. This is most obviously done with alcohol, keeping the house dry for a time being, or keeping it out of sight and out of mind. It could be a beautiful witness to your family member if you also make the sacrifice and commit to abstaining from alcohol for the duration of their recovery. It’s an additional level of support they probably weren’t anticipating. 

If drugs are the problem, keep over-the-counter substances out of sight. Offer to get rid of the ones in your loved one’s possession, if that is the case. Whatever steps need to be taken to make the home free of temptation, take them. Every step towards a healthy lifestyle is a crucial one.

Health at all costs

A battle with substance use is exhausting for everyone involved. It takes a toll on emotions, stress levels and can even impact day to day life if the proper boundaries aren’t set and well-maintained.

For this reason, it’s important for you to set healthy boundaries and maintain good care of yourself so that you, in turn, can provide the right amount of care to your loved one. This includes getting the right people involved who are trained in handling substance use situations. 

No matter where in the journey your family member finds himself/herself, encourage them to take advantage of the right counseling services. The specialists at Rehab After Work want your loved one to achieve freedom from substance use as badly as you want them to, and will take the steps necessary to create a recovery plan that’s right for them. Additionally, if you yourself need guidance on what steps to take or how to talk with your family member about the substance use habit, call us any time at 610-644-6464. 

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