How to best support a recovering alcoholic/addict

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When our clients leave our 12 step clinic, having completed the alcohol rehab treatment programme, they have no reason at all to use again. If they have taken on board what has been said and what they have learned. If they want to stop drinking and using, then they no longer have a physical need to drink or use again (they will be fully detoxed). They will no longer have the mental obsession with alcohol or drugs – or prescription medication.

They will have learned that they are powerless over the substance once they take it (it is a form of insanity to start putting it in their body again). That they are not only destroying their own happiness but they are affecting the people they love when they drink or use. Learnt how to ask for help when the going gets tough. Been taught how important it is to deal with anger and resentment as these destructive emotions arise.

So, your loved one in addiction recovery can now take responsibility for keeping to the clean and sober path. However, many family members want to know what they should do to prevent the person going back to their old harmful habits. There are ways in which you can help.

Remove Temptation

First, in early recovery we are all still vulnerable and it is best to remove temptation. So if you have a home in which there is alcohol (or other substances) then please remove these. Lock up your bottles somewhere out of sight or off the premises. Don’t drink or take any mood altering substances around the person in recovery. If you do not yourself have a problem it should be possible for you to abstain for a while as a way of showing your support.

Avoid ‘wet’ places. If you keep taking someone to the pub, the chances are that eventually they will succumb and have a drink. So why risk it? If there are social occasions which involve alcohol then be prepared for your loved one to feel uncomfortable in their early days. They may choose not to attend – or only to attend for a short while. Let them know this is all right.

Attend 12 Step Fellowship Meetings

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Your loved one should attend 12 step fellowship meetings. You should encourage them to attend these (3 – 4 a week) and remove any excuses. It is important that these are a priority. They will need to get a sponsor and go through the 12 step programme with that sponsor. They should attend any aftercare available at their treatment centre. If these things are prioritised, then your loved one should not relapse.

If they do relapse then all the other things that are also important time with family, friends, work and hobbies will all come to nothing as they sink back into addiction. So initially 12 step meetings have to come before these other priorities.

As someone who cares for and loves a recovering alcoholic or addict, there is Al-anon or Fa-manon for support. These are 12 step recovery meetings for family members. Give it a try. You will learn what your loved one is doing in their own 12 step meeting and you will also gain support for yourself if you need it.

Good luck – and we hope you enjoy the positive changes in your family member in recovery!

If you or a loved one have a drink or drug related problem, please call 01462 851414 for confidential help and advice