Are you the loved one of a recovering addict or alcoholic? Are you in a new relationship with someone who has just opened up about their past problems with alcohol or substance abuse? Whether you’re already living with or decided to commit to a relationship with someone in recovery, their process can be overwhelming and emotionally exhausting for everyone involved.
Deciding to move forward with someone who led a lifestyle vastly different from yours will be confusing and frustrating. You may think you must walk on eggshells or feel weighted by the responsibility of safeguarding their sobriety.
However, while your presence and support may reduce their risk of relapse, the recovering addicts’ journey is their own. Here’s how you can show love and compassion for someone new in recovery:
To be a source of love and encouragement, you need to understand their journey. Do your research and educate yourself about substance abuse and recovery. Learn about the nature of their addiction and be open to hear their story. Talk to them about their triggers and the intensity of their cravings; work together to manage exposure.
Be Patient and Supportive
Each person’s recovery process is unique. One may need to cut ties or avoid all friends and establishments that may entice them to have a drink, while someone else may find it’s important to live as normally as possible – even at the risk of exposure to triggers.
Support your loved one’s unique journey. This may mean working your schedules and social activities around their support group meetings or staying away from parties where you know there will be drugs and alcohol.
Communicate Your Emotions
Recovering addicts are no stranger to therapy and the importance of expressing how they feel. They’ve learned how to work on themselves and examine how their addiction has affected their health, jobs, and relationships. Honesty has been critical to their recovery; without it, they’d still be in denial of the severity of their substance or alcohol abuse.
Recovering addicts probably know better than anyone how damaging lies and secrets can be. By communicating your feelings to your loved one, you also respect and practice the spiritual principle of honesty that those in recovery live by. Keeping your frustrations and apprehensions from your loved one may only upset their progress and delay healing for everyone involved.
Find an Outlet
Living with a family member or significant other recovering from addiction can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Just as your loved one continues to work on themselves and attends meetings regularly, you may want to do the same. There are support groups for the family and friends of recovering addicts. It may help you to hear how others cope with loved ones with a substance use disorder in their past.
Practice Self-Love and Self-Care
The best you can do for a recovering addict is to find a balance between showing your love and support while not jeopardizing your own happiness. Remember that your life does not revolve around your significant other’s recovery. Self-care is not selfish; taking care of your mental and emotional needs gives you the strength to be fully present in the relationship.
The last thing you want to do is derail an addict’s recovery by filling them with guilt over how drastically your life has changed. You are neither their babysitter nor the protector of their sobriety. Recovering addicts who have gone through therapy and the steps know that their process is their own and should not be dependent on anyone else.
If you want to continue the discussion on how to love someone who is new in recovery, give us a call at (619) 630-7844.