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How to Support an Alcoholic in Recovery

how to support an alcoholic in recovery

Has one of your loved ones just gotten out of rehab for alcohol addiction? As part of their support group, it’s your job to keep them from going back. The question is, how do you do that?
To begin the process of helping them heal, you’ll want to first educate yourself on addiction and its recovery process. After that, it’s a matter of listening to them and offering your support as you can.

If you’re still not sure what you can really do, here are a few tips on how to support an alcoholic in recovery so you can help your loved one stay on their feet.

1. Educate Yourself on Addiction and the Recovery Process

Before you can begin to help someone you have to understand what they are going through. You will need to educate yourself on alcohol addiction and the recovery process.

This is one of the biggest hurdles that your loved one will ever go through so you’ll need to understand what their potential triggers are so you can keep them away from them. Being mindful of this will help you keep your loved one from having a relapse.

2. Accept Them With No Judgment

When someone gets out of rehab they are going to feel ashamed enough of themselves without someone else adding to it. Often, some members of their family may make comments that make them feel worse. It’s important that you don’t do that.

You have to be the one person who accepts them through everything they go through and be a pillar of support and love. If you let them know how proud you are of them for making the decision to work toward sobriety, that could give them the further push that they need to keep going.

3. Create a Substance-Free Environment

It’s important that you remove alcohol from their life. Maybe sit down with them and do a purge of their home after they get out of rehab as sort of a way to put their old life behind them.

If you both are invited to a party where alcohol will be present either talk them out of going or look for signs of temptation. If you think they are getting dangerously close to accepting a drink, then it’s up to you to step in and get them out.

4. Listen to Them

People who are struggling with alcohol addiction needs someone there to actively listen to them. They need someone to talk through their struggles with and sometimes, just need a little bit of expert advice.

Not only are they going to want someone to talk to about their struggles but their victories as well. They’re going to get excited when they’ve reached a big goal such as staying sober for a year. Be someone they can celebrate with.

This isn’t to say that you have to be their therapist, but just be the one person that takes an interest. It will make all the difference in their journey to recovery.

5. Encourage Healthy Habits

Another thing that you can do to help get their mind off of alcohol is to encourage them to pick up healthy habits and doing them with them. For example, inviting them over to bake or cook with you.

You can also invite them to take part in some of your hobbies like if you rock climb or fish. These activities are fun and for the most part alcohol-free so there is no temptation.

6. Turn Them Towards a Support Group

One of the most crucial things for continuing sobriety is by talking to a support group that has been in their shoes before. This is something you want to highly encourage them to do.

On top of talking to recovering addicts, they can also get some encouragement to stay sober, while also encouraging other people in the group.

7. Be Prepared For Continued Problems

Understand that when your loved one gets out of rehab it’s not always as simple as them picking up their lives right where it left off. There will be continued problems that they may need help with.

For example, often time those with any kind of addiction lose their jobs. It could take them a bit to find a new one and get back on their feet. While looking for a job they will also have debts that they have to pay off, for example, any DUIs.

8. Don’t Hold Unreasonable Expectations For Them

Again, when they get out of rehab everything isn’t going to be perfect so you shouldn’t hold them to those sort of expectations. While rehab can help your loved one go down the path of sobriety, it’s not an overnight miracle cure.

There will be times when they will struggle, and times when they could possibly relapse. It’s important that you understand that this could happen and not become disappointed in them. If your loved one can sense that you’re disappointed, it will cause them to become disgusted with themselves which could make them to relapse even further.

Be a Great Friend: How to Support an Alcoholic in Recovery

The most important tip on how to support an alcoholic in recovery is to just be there for them. You can do this in a number of ways like introducing them to alcohol-free activities, or just listen to them when they are speaking.

Remember to never lose your patience or have unreasonable expectations of them. Be the friend that your loved one needs you to be.

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Recovery Resource Center provides information on the best evidence-based treatment centers for people struggling with addiction and mental health.