Alcohol abuse treatment is just the first step in a long journey to recovery for someone who has stopped drinking. Loved ones play an important role in addicts building a life without alcohol.
These eight tips can help you thrive in that support role.
1) Learn more about alcoholism. Educate yourself on the nature of the disease and understand how to talk to your loved one about their drinking problem. “You will learn the impacts of addiction on the brain and body and the recovery process, among other valuable skills,” Aaron Sternlicht, a New York-based family addiction specialist, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
2) Show interest. Don’t assume your part is over once your loved one has completed treatment and is attending therapy sessions. Offer to attend meetings or sessions with them. Ask them what they’re learning about managing the disease.
3) Give them space, though. You don’t want to become so involved in their daily life that it becomes an obsession. Your role is to be a supportive loved one or friend, not a professional counselor.
4) Be consistent.You always want to be positive, supportive, and inquisitive. Avoid being judgmental about alcoholism or the demands of therapy.
“Check in on your loved one to see how they are doing, but remember that they probably already feel enough pressure and stress maintaining sobriety, especially in early recovery,” Sternlicht says. “As such, don’t make this about their alcohol or drug use, but rather about genuine concern for their mental state and wanting to connect with them on a deeper level. Listen with an open mind [to] what they have to say, and even if you may not agree with them, affirm their feelings.”
5) Be role model. “You can show support to your loved one in recovery by living a healthy lifestyle yourself,” Sternlicht says.
Some good habits to practice are:
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat healthy.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Communicate openly.
6) Help them keep up their routine.Offer to assist with household and family tasks when they get in the way of your friend’s or loved one’s therapy sessions. Avoid going to places serving alcohol when you are out together, and don’t drink around them.
7) Stay patient. Remember how difficult alcohol dependency is for someone to overcome. Relapses are common.
8) Don’t neglect yourself.Helping a loved one stay sober can take a toll. The Al-Anon organization is designed to support family members and friends of alcoholics. Also, don’t hesitate to seek therapy yourself if the stress becomes too much.
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If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.