I’m a family member of someone not currently in recovery, but is not using:
As explained on the recovery page, there is more to maintaining sobriety than just abstinence. It is so common for people to believe that once the addict (and I’m including alcoholism as an addiction here) is no longer using he will return to the way he was before the whole mess started. We want to remember and reinvent the happier times – before Sally was full of rage or James began lying and stealing. Unfortunately, one can never go backwards and automatically “unlearn” those behaviors and thought patterns that emerged to allow the addict to adapt to his ever-growing habit. Instead, the addict needs to reshape the way he views life and his decision making process. Most often his coping skills have morphed down to one solution – using to escape. Once that avenue is removed (abstinence), there is little left to replace it. If he doesn’t learn how to deal with life’s challenges in a healthier way, he is in real danger of relapsing when the pressure becomes too much. That is why it is suggested that after withdrawal is over, that the addict begins the process known as recovery. Without it, his chances of long term sobriety are greatly reduced.Read more: Recovery Help
The recovery process requires some time and effort on the part of the addict. He will often think once he’ s detoxed, he’s home free. Especially is he’s had a high bottom (he hasn’t lost everything or landed in jail yet), he may think he’s got enough sense and intelligence to overcome whatever it is that comes his way. When he ends up using again, wondering what happened, he may simply think that enough time has passed to allow him to successfully imbibe without going overboard. For a true addict, that never happens. The odd phenomenon is that within a short period of time, his tolerance (the amount he needs to use to the desired results) returns to where it was when he quit, and often it becomes even worse!
So encouraging recovery and aftercare options are the best bet. If you’re not an addict yourself, how could you even know what obstacles are sure to surface during the different phases of recovery? It is other addicts and addiction specialists who are best suited to deal with the issues common to addicts trying to stay clean. Once addicted, abstaining becomes the unnatural thing to do. To understand that concept better, try to imagine willing hunger pangs away when you haven’t eaten. The farther away from that last high, the less continually the addict will dwell on what he “thought” made life better – his substance of choice. Again, these concepts are difficult to understand by one who hasn’t been there. Encouraging your loved one to get involved in a 12-step or other addiction support program is your best recourse.
Still, the addict may be adamant that he needs no help, no matter what you do. It is encouraged, whether your loved one is in recovery or not, to get help yourself. Knowledge is your best defense, and learning what you’re up against will best equip you for that first rocky year, or that first relapse. The addict is addicted to his substance, but family members become addicted to trying to fix, change or manage the addict. Families can become so entrenched in those dysfunctional behaviors that their lives become distorted, too. A great resource is Al-anon, a 12-step program for family members where they can learn not to enable the addict or become entrenched in his dysfunction. It is truly possible to find that your own happiness doesn’t have to be contingent on the addict’s choices and moods.
Mood swings accompany that first year of two, so don’t get discouraged when your loved one is up one day and down the next. That is a normal result of the body’s chemicals adjusting to life without their chemical crutch. Patience is key here, but continue to encourage the addict to become involved in some sort of continuing program. Positive encouragement helps, browbeating and shaming only make the addict more defensive – which may be the excuse he’s been waiting for to use again.
It goes without saying that emptying the home of alcohol and other drugs is important in the early stages. Prescribed drugs should be kept in a place the addict can’t access. Why test the willpower – do what you can to ease the stress of learning to live without the immediate gratification using provides. Remember using is about escaping, so if the drug of choice is unavailable, he may reach for a different one to take it’s place. If he goes there it is inevitable – only a matter of time – before he is using the substitute to excess. Better to close all the escape hatches so he can learn to deal with life instead of escape from it.
Try and find recreational activities that don’t involve drinking or using . Cocktail parties can be hell for anyone white-knuckling their way through abstinence. Be open minded to trying new things. Maybe bicycling isn’t for nerds after all! Exercise is a great way to stave off depression while filling those hours once spent using. Be aware that an addict tends to do everything to excess, so encourage him to strive for balance. This is another area where other recovering addicts can be of great help. Dysfunctional behaviors don’t just disappear like magic once the addict’s substance of choice is removed. In times of great stress, the addict’s knee-jerk response will mostly be to use without the benefit of continued care. Hold your loved one accountable for his own behaviors and responsibilities. Doing for him what he should be doing for himself will only hinder his emotional growth. Above all, don’t rationalize or cover up for him. You can’t do the growing for someone else.
Lastly, it doesn’t matter if one has been abstinent for a month or for years. There have been instances when abstinent addicts have become so despondent and dysfunctional that they choose to go to treatment after all. You don’t need to be active in your addiction to seek help. Knowledge is never wasted and it’s never too late to grow healthier and happier.
Whatever path to recovery you choose, our staff has access to hundreds of treatment centers to assure the best personalized treatment for you, then with continued follow up to help you make the transition to sober living as seamless as possible.
Our trained staff of professionals are qualified to help you assess what type of treatment will be the best fit to ensure you or your loved one gets the help you need.
But how does one go about finding the right program?
If this all looks very overwhelming....it is! But that's what we are here for. Call us at 888-205-8608 and we can help make this process much easier. We will narrow down all of these aspects and find the best program for you or your loved one with all your concerns considered. It's as simple as making that first call. And the best part is that we are a free service. The road to recovery starts here!
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