Addiction is a complex disease that affects friends and loved ones, too, says retired Marine Sergeant Donald Elverd, a senior psychologist at the Betty Ford Foundation in St. Paul, Minn. Recovery can be a challenging process for everyone involved and works best when family members are both appropriately supportive and attentive to their own needs. He says to do these things if your loved one is in the early stages of recovering from a substance use disorder:
- Maintain supportive and direct communication with your loved one. Focus on being clear about what you want and your concerns. As much as possible, use “I” statements - those focused on your feelings and beliefs - rather than the thoughts and characteristics you might attribute to your loved one.
- Practice self-care. Eat well and get enough sleep. Stress reducers like exercise, meditation, yoga, and prayer can be very helpful, too. Engage in activities that bring you joy. Remember: You will not have much to give to others if you are not taking care of yourself.
- Don't try to control the outcome. This will prevent the substance use disorder from controlling your life. Trust your loved one with their journey of recovery.
- Stay true to your values. Remember who you are in the world and what you stand for. If you operate from your core values, you will be a solid role model for your loved one.
- Do you need to work on your own recovery from substance abuse? Consider participating in a 12-step fellowship such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, attending another type of support group, and/or seeking therapy, counseling, or other forms of help for yourself.