Watching a loved one struggle with addiction is an overwhelming, heartbreaking experience. After all, addiction is a disease that hurts the whole family, not just the person who has the substance abuse problem. As a friend or family member, it’s understandable that you may be feeling anxious about your loved one’s treatment. However, it’s important to remember that there are ways you can offer support to help your loved one achieve lifelong sobriety.
You Can Show Support During Treatment Through Following These Christian Principles
Going through the first few stages of addiction treatment will be an extremely challenging time for your loved one. Facing addiction, even with professional help, is no small feat. So, here are some principles you can follow to show support while your loved one is in treatment and in recovery:
No One is Righteous
Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.
The idea behind this principle of showing support for addiction recovery is simple: to err is human. Your reaction to finding out about your loved one’s substance abuse problem probably wasn’t positive. You might have felt disappointed, confused, hopeless, heartbroken, or maybe even disgusted— and chances are, it showed.
It’s important to be careful about how you express your feelings during such a delicate time in both your and your loved one’s lives. It’s also important not to judge too harshly. Addiction gathers traction from a number of emotional, psychological and physical factors, and you probably don’t know all the details of what drove your loved one to abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place. Also, remember that addiction can happen to anyone— so don’t allow yourself to treat your loved one with any less love or respect. Instead, take the time to understand how substance abuse became part of your loved one’s life and offer support during and after addiction treatment.
Do Not Solve Their Problems
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
Your first instinct may be to coddle your loved one as he or she enters the early stages of addiction recovery, but you should avoid this as much as possible. A significant part of the addiction recovery process is learning the coping skills necessary to stay sober in times of stress. So, as challenging as it may be, you’ll need to step back now and then and allow your loved one to face the consequences of his or her actions during the recovery process. Remember, your role as part of your loved one’s support circle is to offer encouragement and love— not to handle the hurdles of addiction recovery on his or her behalf. Doing the latter will only enable your loved one’s addictive behavior.
Do Not Enable
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.
Following this principle simply means that it’s become your duty to avoid enabling your loved one in any way during or after the treatment process. Enabling hinders the recovery process— and it can mean anything from giving your loved one access to substances to turning the other cheek when you sense a relapse is coming. Learning how to avoid enabling is tricky, but it’s necessary. Even if you believe what you’re doing is in your loved one’s best interest, you have to make his or her sobriety and recovery your priority. Don’t let your loved one manipulate you to get away with bad habits. Instead, focus on helping your loved one get through treatment— and make it clear that your love and support is unconditional, but that it also won’t be used against you.
Let Your Love Be True
[Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
—1 Corinthians 13:5
Your loved one may test your loyalty with harsh words, blame, and even anger. With this in mind, you should avoid using your love as a bargaining chip to get your loved one sober. Ultimatums— especially ones like “if you truly loved me, you’d get sober”— almost always backfire and only end up hurting both you and your addicted loved one. Instead, use your love to communicate and convey your concerns. Love should always be a comfort, not a weapon.
Do Not Judge
Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
The addiction recovery process is never a good time for ‘I told you so’s. The last thing you should do is lecture your loved one about what could have been, should have been or would have been if he or she had made different choices before the addiction set in. Chances are, your loved one is already feeling guilty and ashamed— don’t make things worse.
Following this principle during your loved one’s recovery will allow you to remember that changing the past isn’t possible, but shaping the future is. So, instead of passing judgment, be sure to show support by educating yourself on substance abuse, becoming familiar with the treatment methods your loved one is using, and making a note of recovery programs that might be helpful.
Be Consistent and Ready for Obstacles
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…
This principle is a reminder that life has its ups and downs. The addiction recovery process is the same way. The journey to sobriety is long and winding. Unfortunately, relapse is common during the early stages of addiction recovery. In fact, an eight-year study revealed that a surprising two-thirds of individuals in recovery relapse at least once within their first sober year. However, you shouldn’t let this discourage you. The chances of relapse start to diminish as time goes on.
Remember, addiction recovery is a lifelong process. There is always the chance that your loved one might relapse— perhaps even several times— before finally getting sober. Relapse, however, is not an indication of failure. Rather, relapsing during addiction recovery simply means that something about the treatment method isn’t working and needs to be adjusted. So, the best thing you can do in the event of a relapse is to continue to show support and encourage your loved one to keep pushing forward.
Get Help, Support, and Guidance from Road to Freedom
Finding out that someone you love has a substance abuse problem is never easy. However, by taking these principles to heart and treating your loved one’s addiction like the disease it is, you’ll both stand a better chance of making it through together. At Road to Freedom, our faith-based recovery programs offer a variety of services that will equip both you and your loved one for the long journey ahead. As long as your loved one has the drive to get sober, and you have the will to show support every step of the way, sobriety is possible— and you will both get your lives back. For more information about our programs, please call us at (844) 402-3605. All calls are confidential.