When a loved one is seeking help for a drinking problem and is on the road to recovery, there is a feeling of instant relief and hope by family members and friends. Not far behind these emotions are doubt and fear. Common concerns as a loved one to a recovering alcoholic:
- “What if my loved one starts to drink again?”
- “How will our relationship change?”
- “How can I help?”
- “Hopefully I don’t do anything wrong”
Alcoholism not only affects the alcoholic but also family members and loved ones of the alcoholic. Everyone’s journey with an alcoholic is unique but there are similarities. Some feel angry with the alcoholic, some feel guilty, and most have had to watch their loved one slip away and be unavailable to depend upon. The good news is that your loved one is seeking a sober life and there are ways you can help a recovering alcoholic in your life!
Get help for yourself
Many family members of a recovering alcoholic are experiencing high levels of stress due to relationship problems within the family and the fear of the unknown. It is important to get help for healing your wounds from your loved one’s alcohol abuse. Don’t be afraid to get involved in support groups such as Al-Anon or individual counseling. Family support is important and outpatient family therapy programs help families with communication and developing skills in reducing stress and coping with trigger situations. It is also beneficial to receive therapy sessions with your loved one in recovery because this increases awareness of unhealthy behavior and dysfunctional roles that addiction has created in your home
Be supportive of their sobriety
It is important for an alcoholic in the first year of recovery to be in an atmosphere where a clean living lifestyle is promoted. Alcohol should be removed from the home and activities or events where alcohol is consumed should be avoided. It’s best that anyone living in the home restrain from consuming alcohol to support the loved one in recovery.
Help them find a new direction
For a recovering alcoholic, the physical side of being sober is one part of the solution to the road to recovery. Another dimension is the emotional/psychological side. Alcohol was a big part of their existence for years so something else needs to fill that void once sober. After dealing with the emotional/psychological triggers that fed the addiction, it is important for the one in recovery to replace that void with new activities or hobbies, a job, charity work, family involvement… anything your loved one can enjoy that promotes a clean living lifestyle. Help your loved one find something they enjoy doing and be encouraging.
Try to help during stressful situations
It is stressful for both you and the alcoholic. Common stresses for a recovering alcoholic:
- Family conflicts and relationships
- Financial obligations
- Work or school
- Legal consequences of alcohol abuse
Here’s a few ways to help your loved one with stressful situations:
- Keep lines of communication open
- Don’t blame or demean
- Encourage involvement in support groups
- Be available and supportive, but don’t dwell on the stressful situation and pester about how they are coping
- Remember that laughter and humor relieves stress
Know the warning signs of relapse
A person living with a recovering alcoholic needs to know warning signs of relapse such as:
- Isolation from family and friends
- Starts to reconnect with friends from alcohol use times
- Changes in attitude or behavior
- Loss of interest in recovery
- Romanticizing past alcohol use
You are helping your loved one towards long term recovery by understanding and supporting the life changes that are necessary to living a life free from alcohol addiction. New Day Recovery is here for you and your loved one.