You as a family member can contribute to your loved one’s recovery. So, what can that look like for you? You do want to bring your awareness and effort first and foremost to your own recovery. Where are you in your own recovery? Are you taking care of your own fears, attitudes and behaviors? If not, why not? Get the support you need so you are available to yourself, and then your loved one.
If your loved one has been in treatment, make sure they have a clear discharge plan. They should have discussed a detailed program to participate in their own recovery. This can include an aftercare program (outpatient treatment), 12 step meetings or other support group, social network, job seeking, etc. This is your loved one’s recovery. Your part is to support that, not to manage it, not to hover around them to make sure they’re following their program, or calling them out if they are not with your judgment and disappointment. Relapse is part of recovery, not necessary but common too. These are healthy ways to contribute to family recovery:
1. Consider your own standards for yourself and your home. 2. Communicate in a clear and kind manner what your conditions are for your loved one’s return. 3. Communicate that you are now following your own recovery plan and will mention discrepancies and concerns as they arise (again, short and sweet, stick to the facts, release the judgment, take care of your fears). 4. Consistency and strength of your agreements are essential. If you institute a contract or agreement with your loved one, you must be willing and able to follow through and enforce it. The boundaries and contract will most likely be tested. Everyone is developing new skills and new ways of interacting. Respect and support the process with clarity and consistency. 5. Prepare for a clear and kind response to #4 if the agreement is challenged or broken. What statements will you have on hand to verbalize? What are the natural consequences? What other options do you communicate? What alternative supports might you offer? 6. Commit to yourself that you are part of solutions, you are an advocate for your loved one’s recovery but not the manager of it, and commit to your own recovery just as much as you hope your loved one will commit to their own. 7. Re-direct any expectations, assumptions, criticisms and judgments. Step away and do your own work. 8. Create a safe and healthy environment (internal and in your own house) 9. Be silently available. Do your own recovery so your loved one can begin to trust you as a safe and consistent support. 10. Include your loved one as appropriate. Follow your heart and wisdom, not the fear of others who don’t welcome or may not understand. They have their own time and journey too. 11. Ask your loved one how you can best help them in their recovery and to include them. 12. Encourage with compassion and loving kindness, invite your loved one to bring their supports (literature, guided meditation, etc) 13. Be available to listen without talking, hearing for understanding not commentary. Listen with curiosity 14. Know it is their recovery and they do know what to do for it. 15. Help with supportive resources (12 step meetings, a ride to an essential appointment, community resources if needed, etc) 16. Discuss and ensure they have a way out, a plan B, or way to get home if they become overwhelmed. 17. Validate their healthy choices and efforts. 18. Let your loved one know you value and appreciate them and are thankful to share their company. 19. Be patient. This is a life’s journey and a marathon. Change is inevitable so welcome it. 20. Develop your own inner peace practices so all the above is more accessible and doable for you.
Contributions made by Beverly Buncher, Family Recovery Resources - The BALM (Be A Loving Mirror) and Michael Speakman, Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PALs)