There are few things more emotionally devastating than watching someone you love struggle with an active addiction. Addiction is a comprehensive and utterly devastating disease – it ravages the body, the mind, and the spirit, leaving nothing but the shell of a human in its wake. Living with an addict isn’t just difficult – it can be traumatizing.
Dealing with the emotional outbursts, the lies, and manipulation, and the physical symptoms can seem almost impossible. Fortunately, if you are reading this, you have likely come out on the other side. The worst is over (hopefully), and now you must adjust to living with someone who is newly sober – someone living a life of recovery. It can be difficult to determine just how to act; you don’t want to treat them differently, but you don’t want to do anything that might trigger them or put their recovery at risk.
Take a look at these helpful tips for living with a recovering addict, and remember – while you can be supportive and understanding, your loved one’s recovery is in their own hands.
Living with a Recovering Addict
First of all, try your best to understand that it is not up to you to keep your loved one sober. They must adhere to a structured schedule, learning what recovery methods work for them personally. However, you can do these things to make the process a bit easier:
Remove all alcohol and drugs from the house.
This won’t always be necessary, but before a newly sober individual has worked through the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, he or she is more susceptible to relapse. Removing all beer, wine, and marijuana from the house is a good idea – even if those specific substances don’t seem like a threat. Make your home a safe space.
Understand that early recovery can be an emotional rollercoaster.
There is nothing easy about early recovery. Imagine learning how to live sober after chemical substances dictated your entire life for an extended period of time. It takes time. Additionally, the psychological devastation that drug addiction causes may lead to prolonged symptoms of withdrawal called post-acute withdrawal. Many of these symptoms will be emotional, leading to mood swings and irritability.
Give your loved one space.
You may feel like it is your job to make sure your loved one stays on track – it isn’t. Try not to be overbearing, as difficult as that may seem. Trust that your loved one acquired the necessary tools to maintain sobriety while he or she was in inpatient treatment.
Similarly, you may be curious about the progress of your loved one. Try to avoid asking questions. While you mean well, it truly doesn’t concern you – if your loved wants to share, they will! Let them do things in their own time.
Attend 12-step meetings yourself – try Al-Anon.
Attending a support group for the friends and family members of addicts will offer you valuable insight and teach you important coping skills. Al-Anon will also help you to recognize that you aren’t alone – there are many people going through exactly what you are going through, people who can lead by example, and help you through any tough times.
Over Time It Get Easier
Keep in mind that things will progressively get easier, and long-term recovery means that the mental obsession your loved one once grappled with will be lifted. In most cases, this means you can return to your normal, day-to-day life, without worrying about triggers or extreme emotions. Living with a recovering addict can be tricky – but living with someone who is in the throes of active addiction is far, far worse. For more information or advice, please feel free to contact us today.