Sunday April 20th 2014

Family support for drug addicts – How to support an addict in recovery

So someone in your life has decided to give up their addiction. You want to support them. How do you do it?

Following are some basic suggestions for supporting your addict in recovery. We invite you to share your experiences or ask questions about providing recovery support at the end. We try to answer every question with a personal and prompt response.

Family support for drug addicts in recovery

1. Be encouraging.

How to support a drug addict in recovery? The best support you can give is to simply be encouraging. Encourage your recovering addict to share their feelings with you and make the environment safe enough that the addict can trust you and be open and honest.  Encourage your loved one coping with urges and cravings to hang in there.  Encourage your family member with kind words and kind treatment.

2. Go to meetings.

If they are attending 12 step or self help meetings and ask you to go along, feel free to do so. It is nice to have someone you care about attend an open 12 step meeting with you to learn and meet fellows in recovery and learn about addiction recovery spirituality.

3. Keep drugs or alcohol out of reach.

Preventing relapse in substance abuse is key to continued sobriety.  As much as possible, keep the addict’s drug of choice out of site if you have it in the home, and try to abstain from personally using when in contact.

4. Encourage routines.

Encourage your addict to eat properly, sleep properly, exercise, take meds exactly as prescribed, keep all recovery appointments and meeting commitments, live a healthy lifestyle keep their recovery the top priority in their lives. As the new behaviour becomes ingrained in the user, they will ease into mainstream living.

5. Have realistic expectations.

Recovery for the addict will take time. Patience is required. Think how long it took your addict to hit bottom and get into recovery. Behaviour changes will not happen overnight.

6. Forgive and forget.

Yelling, screaming and throwing up the past constantly will not help!

In sum, openly caring about your addict and their recovery will support someone new to addiction recovery. Simply being there, learning to understand the issues, encouraging new positive behaviour; these are things you can do.

Family support for drug addiction questions

Still have questions about how to support a loved one who is a drug addict? You are not alone! Please leave your questions, comments and share your experiences here. We will try our best to respond to your questions with a personal reply…within a day, or two!

Photo credit: Neil

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17 Responses to “Family support for drug addicts – How to support an addict in recovery
Anon
2:04 pm March 26th, 2012

I have a loved one who is abusing prescription drugs and alcohol . I was wondering if I was to contact this persons Dr to report it,would it be confidental or would the Dr have the right to tell the patient who reported them? This is weighing on my heart so much because i feel this person is going to end up killing themslves from their abuse. I just know if this person found out who reported them life would get ugly for so many people including myself. Im so concerned for this persons life and for their young children that live with this daily. Thank you in advance.

3:42 pm March 26th, 2012

Hi Anon.

In the context of health care, confidentiality is defined as information told in confidence or imparted in secret. However, privacy is not absolute, and must be balanced with the need for the efficient provision of medical care and the availability of resources.

If you know this person’s doctor, I would suggest that you call the doctor and ask about his/her policy on confidentiality. Check on this first, before you disclose information. And you might also consider calling social services to report drug use…but that could potentially begin a legal process.

Does this help?

Anon
3:56 am March 27th, 2012

Hi. Yes this did help:) I called and didnt have to give any of my personal info and reported to their Dr. Thank you for your help, God bless. Anon

8:54 am March 27th, 2012

I wish the best for you and your family. I hope that your family member can get into addiction recovery and stop the cycle of addiction.

Sue Bee
12:22 pm February 19th, 2013

M sister is 40 years old and a drug addict she had a accidential drug over dose. How do I get control of her health care to get her in rehab?

1:13 pm February 19th, 2013

Hi Sue. I’d suggest that you contact your state’s attorney general’s office and ask this same question. State laws make be in effect in which you can report harm to self or others and make rehab or detox required. Also, check in with your state’s social service office and see what types of services can be provided.

patti
6:59 am February 24th, 2013

If my 26 year old son is in a residential treatment program for his alcoholism; should I be spending time with him every weekend after his first 30 days of no family? He seems to want to spend time with me and his brother every weekend. My son and I enjoy seeing him sober after so many years of alcohol addiction. But should we be leaving him alone in his recovery?

2:14 pm February 25th, 2013

Hi Patti. No. Don’t leave your son alone! Being in a treatment center can feel limited and constraining, a lot like prison. People in treatment feel connected and warm when family members visit…and they need the love and support. Don’t think twice about it! Go and visit!

Plus, you may want to speak with an addictions specialist to learn more about what you can do to support his recovery after he returns to his life. The more knowledgeable and prepared you are, the better. Getting involved with love and without expectation is one of the best things that you can do for your son.

Jammie
6:33 am March 30th, 2013

hi my husband of 7 years overdosed. We have 3 children. Everything im reading is what we have been dealing with. He made it by the grace of god into bradford. We lost our children for 30 days. small town. The cops came into our home looking for the drugs he had overdosed on. Its been 3 months of pure tourture. I did have test for dcs all clean. going back 3 months. To keep this short. Im looking into the eyes of a man thats forced to be clean or we lose our children. God cleans house. I try not to be bitter about the time my children spent in foster care and greatful we got them back so fast. Told they never should have been taken. I had kept his addiction or so i thought hidden. What a joke. I was beaten broken and mentally trying to keep my crap togeather for my kids.Afraid all the time. I had no were to run. Hes 80 days clean. I cant forgive him.He blaims me. He was the master manipulator or you just gave in tired of the fights. Prince charming. Hes clean and i hate him for what hes done. Im always looking over my shoulder and he is even more controling now. Afraid i will leave. Im not sure who the real man is. At least on drugs he had happy at times. but when he ran out you had better run. I protected my children and i belive i lost myself.

6:38 am March 31st, 2013

Hello Jammie. I’d suggest that you see an addictions counselor, go to Al-Anon or Narc-Anon and if you don’t get out of the relationship, at least stop enabling the behavior. Just know that you are not alone!

Shanon
7:30 pm August 20th, 2013

I am at a job where my boss abuses prescription drugs to get some sort of high. I have come to care about this person and his children, but cannot get over this addiction. It constantly causes a sore spit between us and comes down to some nasty things being said to each other. I know that I mean some of them, but I truly want to be free of the guilt I can fro knowing that he is harming his business and his children because of his addiction.

1:18 pm August 21st, 2013

Hi Shanon. I hear you. Have you spoken with a close family member to this man, like his parent or spouse? Or siblings? You might try to collectively plan an intervention and try to get him into treatment.

Stacey
2:11 pm December 9th, 2013

I live with my boyfriend of five years. He is a middle aged musician who has been through rehab six times for narcotics abuse. None of the prior rehab programs were naro anon suppoorted. He just completed his first Narc Anon rehab where they encouraged family participation in counseling sessions and aftercare meetings.

During the inpatient rehab, I realized that i was enabling my boyfriends addiction by providing a free place to live while he spent all of his disposable money on drugs. That being said, told him I expect him to contribute to living expenses.

After his discharge i attended his first narco anon meeting with him. Afterward he decided to join that particular group Nd told me he would go to other meeting places with me but that he did not want me to attend that meeting so that he could feel free to have an open forum.

He attends meetings everyday after work and does not talk much to me as he is tired and now has his group to talk to. He has told me he will not contribute to living expenses because i live beyond his means., which is clearly a cop out: as he could contribute a prorata share of expenses. He also told me he doesnt talk to me about his recovery issues because i am not an addict and he needs recovering addicts advise, not mine.

I dont want to be an enabler. And i am not sure if i am being used or if it is normal for adicts to shut out thier non adictted family members. If so, how long does this issolation period usually last?? And how long can i expect that he will need to attend daily meetings?? Clearly, i am anticipating a return to normalcy: is that unrelaistic??

Kaylie
2:48 pm January 25th, 2014

My sister has been a drug addict for eleven years now. She is finally starting to get better, though she is not in rehab yet and may still be taking prescription drugs. I am not sure how to encourage her since I live abroad. How can I encourage her?
Thank you!

11:19 am January 31st, 2014

Hello Kaylie. This is a really good question. Do you have regular phone calls with your sister? This might be a good starting point. Also, looking into treatment options for her can be a good help.

p
5:50 pm January 31st, 2014

What now? My son came home from a 6 month rehab program. He has had a major relapse. All behaviors in a contract that he signed off on which would be deemed unacceptable, he has violated. He is once again turning my home upside down. Since I am a widow and mom and have a working life and have limited resources and assistance, I don’t know what I can do for this 27 year old young man. He is calling in sick to work. He is spiraling out of control again with his drinking and this progressive disease. I want him to leave my home. I feel like a hostage in my own home. I am thinking of changing the locks. But I’m afraid that won’t work.

6:29 am February 1st, 2014

Hello P. What a tough situation to be in. I empathize with you, as you must be feeling lots of conflicting emotions: anger, disappointment, sadness. I’d suggest that you consult with the treatment center he attended. Inform them of what’s going on and ask for help. Either your son requires immediate (more long term) treatment, counseling, or to live in a halfway house. Because something’s not working for him (or you) when he’s in your home.

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About Keith Bray

I am a Master Life Coach who is ICF certified and a certified addictions coach. I consider myself recovered from the effects of addiction (16 years) but still in recovery mode as it relates to personal growth. Professionally, I am university educated, a former corporate CEO and have been in the consulting business for over two decades. I'm a husband, father, grandfather, friend, uncle son, a trusted confidant and many other things but bottom line, I'm Keith. I hope that I can help SOME out there with ideas that will make you think deeply.