It can be hard to judge what your place is and how involved you should get when it comes to another person’s recovery. Only you know your relationship with your friend and what level of involvement you’re comfortable with having.
It’s first important to be aware of the warning signs of mental health issues so you can step in with love and encouragement for your friend, if needed.
Going through addiction recovery can be emotionally and mentally draining, and many people have co-occurring mental disorders. Learn to recognize some of the signs that might indicate that your friend is starting to take a downturn in their mental health during recovery.
According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, 46 percent of U.S. adults have a family member or close friend who’s been addicted to drugs. So, if you have a friend who’s recovering from addiction, you’re not alone. Here are eight ways you can get involved in their recovery journey without becoming too intrusive.
Talk openly with your friend
Helping a friend through the addiction recovery process begins with having honest conversations. Practice empathy and understanding for your friend by asking about their experience with addiction.
Have them share the feelings and emotions they’ve had since starting recovery. Then, you can share your concerns for them, how you’d like to help and ways you can better communicate with each other moving forward.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- How can I best support you in your recovery?
- What’s been the hardest part of recovery?
- What are your triggers, and how can I help you deal with those?
- What are your goals moving forward, and your hopes for the future in recovery?
Any solid relationship must be built on a foundation of trust. If you want your friend to trust you during their recovery, let them know that you’re there for them no matter what.
Avoid ganging up on them, breaking trust by enrolling them in something they didn’t agree to, or any other form of forcing some aspect of recovery on them.
A person in addiction recovery has to want to change, and no one can make that happen except for the person recovering. Extend your help and guidance, and focus on trust between you and your friend.
Give them love and support
Often the most important things for a recovering addict to receive is unconditional love and support. Even if you’re unable to physically help them, simply lending a listening ear can mean the world to someone in recovery.
Addiction can destroy relationships and cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. Make sure your friend knows that they’re not alone by loving and supporting them in their recovery.
Find rehab centres and support groups
Long-term recovery is most likely when a recovering addict can participate in some form of addiction treatment.
Find local rehab centers in the U.S. by using the SAMHSA treatment services locator, and bring these options to your friend. If you’re in Canada, visit the Addiction Center online, or go to UK Rehab if you’re located in the U.K. People from other nations will likely be able to find a centre by Googling “rehab” and the country of their choice.
Or, if your friend isn’t interested in a treatment program, find Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings for them to attend virtually or in-person. If it’s an open group that they choose, you may also attend a meeting or two with your friend, as moral support.
Give them rides
Offer to drive your friend to doctor’s appointments, their counselling center, their rehab program or other places for recovery.
Use this time together to talk about their recovery, what’s working and what’s not working, and how you can continue to support them.
Offer positive affirmations
Words are powerful. Encourage your friend with positive affirmations.
You might say something like:
- I’m so proud of you.
- You’re doing a great job.
- This isn’t easy, and I see strength in your actions to better yourself.
- I’m here for you.
- You inspire me.
- You’ll get through this.
Sometimes, we can go too far in our support and end up enabling a person to continue their addiction. Enabling can look like ignoring signs that your friend has relapsed, turning a blind eye to substance use or lying to protect your friend.
This usually comes out of a place of genuine love and concern for our friends, but it’s only going to stagnate their recovery.
If your friend is showing signs of substance abuse, confront the problem and have an honest conversation. Try not to ignore the behaviour or hope that it will get better without saying anything. Our friends need our honesty when they’re recovering from addiction.
Seek support from other loved ones
If you have a close circle of friends, or you’re in contact with your friend’s family, try reaching out to others for additional support.
Again, remember the importance of trust with something like this, and don’t gang up on your friend. Reach out to loved ones who are aware of your friend’s addiction recovery and discuss together how you can help them.
«RELATED READ» ADDICTION TREATMENT: 6 wholistic practices that can help with recovery»
image 1: Pixabay; image 2: Pixabay