5 Ways to Support a Loved One in Recovery from Opioid and Heroin Addiction
The opioid epidemic is sweeping the nation and is more present than ever here in Arizona. In the past year, there have been over 1,500 deaths and nearly 10,000 overdoses related to opioid usage in The Grand Canyon State. Drug addiction is a very serious problem and when people choose to get help, it’s very important for their friends and family to support them while they are in recovery, which is a lifelong process.
Many people are under the misconception that recovery is a definite process. It isn’t: there will be ups, there will be downs, and a secure sobriety is never guaranteed. It is vital that recovering addicts have a strong group of people supporting them and encouraging them to continue to make the right choices. Once a person steps out of rehab is when the real challenge begins. They return to the same environments they were in during their addiction, and the triggers that pushed them toward substance abuse will be present.
Rehab helps addicts find the strength to beat their opioid addiction, and their support systems are what keeps them fighting once they leave a facility. Here are five ways to support your loved one and help them through this difficult time.
1. Educate Yourself About Addiction
As a support for someone in recovery, you need to learn everything you can about this disease. Read articles online, read books in person and go to meetings of groups that interest you. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding opioid addiction and the worst thing you can do is assume thoughts about a person’s condition. Addiction isn’t a choice, it’s a disease that takes total control of a person’s body and mind.
Using the resources listed above, you can learn how the disease really works, and learn to avoid enabling addictive behavior. This will ultimately help your loved one even more. Make sure your resources come from professional sources. Friends can be great listeners, but addiction experts make the best educational sources for this topic.
2. Don’t Take Things Personally – Listen to Their Desires
While in rehab, patients’ contact with the outside world is typically limited at first. Once they are able to contact relatives and friends, some people may elect not to for even longer. That’s because they are focused on their recovery, and dealing with complex emotions. There may be shame for what they did while deep in their addiction or fear that their emotions will be too strong. The important thing is to listen to the desires of your loved one and not take things personally. When they are ready, they will reach out and it’s important that you are there for them at that moment.
It’s important to remember that this process is more about them than it is about you. It goes without saying that their addiction has affected you in one way or another, but their recovery is what comes first. If they don’t fix the things that are wrong within themselves, they won’t be able to properly repair any outstanding relationships either.
3. Stay in the Present and Focus on Sobriety
Some who have participated in opioid drug use have done things in the past they are not proud of. Don’t focus on those elements, because your loved one is trying to work on themselves and move on. Focusing on negative things that have happened in the past can further feelings of shame, fear, and embarrassment. Constantly reminding them of the hardships they put you through, how worried you were, how you thought you were going to lose them: for a recovering addict, hearing these things isn’t helpful. They are trying their hardest to push past this dark time in their life and reminders of their previous behavior will only make them dwell in their wrong doings.
Instead, try to stay in the present and focus on the positive changes your friend or family member is making towards staying sober and starting a new life. Consider getting a therapist or counselor for yourself to work on these issues. Group counseling could be a huge help, as everyone can discuss their thoughts in a safe, controlled environment that is free of judgement and aggression.
4. Take Care of Responsibilities
Your loved one in rehab is going to feel better knowing that their bills are getting paid, their pet is getting taken care of and that their children are being watched by a trusted individual. With those details taken care of, they can focus solely on recovering and getting better.
This differs from enabling behavior because once an opioid addict makes the active choice to get treatment, it is inevitable that they will need some help tending to the responsibilities of their everyday lives. As long as they’re staying clean and taking their program seriously, it will be a relief for them to know that their life post-rehab is ready for them once they’ve completed treatment.
5. Support Positive Choices
Throughout the recovery process, addicts may make decisions that are initially hurtful to you. They may choose to live far away, lose interest in activities you used to do together or something else completely out of left field. It’s important for loved ones to support the positive choices that addicts make, especially when they are related to staying sober and protecting themselves from old habits and environments. Make sure not to take these types of decisions personally and support choices that lead to sobriety!
Addicts go through an intense rollercoaster of emotions, and it’s important to keep in mind that they are trying to make the best choices to fulfill themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. The best thing you can do is cheer them on from the sidelines, and make sure they know that people are rooting for their sobriety.
Arizona Addiction Recovery Center is an effective rehabilitation program for those dealing with opioid addiction both in Arizona and nationwide. Contact us to find out the amazing benefits of our treatment centers. Our doors are open 24/7, and assistance is always available whenever you need it. Don’t hesitate: reach out and start your journey today.