You may feel helpless as you watch your loved one struggle to move forward after seeking treatment for drug or alcohol addiction.
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However, there are plenty of ways you can support the recovery process.
Even if you’ve never experienced a substance use disorder yourself, you can play a key role in helping your loved one build a sober life.
1. Listen Without Judgement
The most important thing you can do for your loved one in recovery is to keep the lines of communication open. Listen to what your loved one needs without shaming, judging, or blaming them for what has happened.
Listening carefully helps you better identify the cause of specific challenges your loved one is facing. For example, if your loved one is trying to find a new job without success, you may be tempted to make assumptions about their lack of work ethic or question their professional qualifications. If you listen carefully, however, you might discover that your loved one doesn’t feel confident explaining their addiction-related resume gap or the reason why they were forced to leave their previous position. Correctly identifying the problem is the first step in providing effective assistance.
2. Share a Healthy Meal
Good nutrition helps heal some of the damage caused by prolonged drug or alcohol abuse, so you may want to consider sharing favorite recipes or helping your loved one improve their culinary skills. Preparing and enjoying a meal can also be a wonderful way to spend time together, even if you don’t consider yourself a whiz in the kitchen.
Another way to promote healthy eating habits is to devote regular blocks of time to meal prep. Depending on individual needs, this might mean creating freezer-friendly meals, cutting fresh fruits and veggies for use during the week, or dividing bulk purchases of nuts and dried fruit into convenient on-the-go snack packs.
3. Exercise Together
Exercise helps boost energy levels, stabilize mood, and promote restful sleep. For someone in recovery, regular exercise promotes the wellness-focused lifestyle that helps prevent relapse.
Any type of physical activity offers benefits, especially if your loved one led a sedentary lifestyle before entering treatment. For example:
- Go for a walk around the neighborhood after dinner.
- Bike or hike at a favorite park.
- Check out a fitness class at the local gym.
- Make a YouTube fitness playlist and exercise at home together.
- Join an adult recreational sports league together.
Most adults should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five or more days per week. However, if your loved one is unable to exercise for 30 minutes at a time, it’s OK to work your way up. Any physical activity is beneficial.
4. Explore a New Hobby
Boredom is a common trigger for cravings and it’s often a struggle for people who are new to recovery to fill their days without drinking or doing drugs. You can help by assisting your loved one in finding a sober hobby to enjoy.
Hobbies should be a based on personal interests, but some ideas to consider include:
- Knitting, crocheting, or sewing
- Painting or drawing
- Creative writing
- Learning to play an instrument
5. Promote Sober Socializing
For many people with substance use disorders, learning to socialize without drinking or using drugs is difficult. Showing your loved one how to have fun while sober can help them stay committed to recovery.
A few ideas:
- Make a list of alcohol-free concerts or other social events in your area and let your loved one pick an event you can attend together.
- Become involved in social activities at your place of worship.
- Go to a movie together, then enjoy a meal at a new restaurant you’ve wanted to try.
- Plan a board game night with friends at your home, complete with snacks and music.
- Join a community theater group. If your loved one is not interested in performing, work behind the scenes on costumes, sets, or marketing.
- If your loved one is going to be attending an event where alcohol will be served, help them practice ways to say no to drinking with confidence.
6. Provide Accountability
Substance use disorders are considered chronic illnesses. This means that your loved one needs to remain continuously focused on treatment much in the same way that a diabetic needs to take permanent steps to manage their blood sugar levels. Even if they seem to be doing well, becoming complacent increases the risk of relapse.
Bel Aire Recovery Center offers aftercare support for all clients, but you can help your loved one by making sure they remember to attend all recovery-related appointments. If transportation is an issue for your loved one, offering a ride to a 12-Step meeting or counseling session is a practical way to be of assistance.
It’s also important to encourage your loved one to reach out for support when they are struggling. Many people want to handle their problems on their own, but knowing when to ask for help is a crucial part of recovery.