Loved Ones in Addiction Recovery: Supporting without Enabling

by | May 31, 2023

Supporting your loved one struggling with substance abuse disorder is deeply important, as it can help them achieve lasting recovery. Addiction is a complex and challenging condition to overcome, and can have a severe impact on the individual’s health, relationships, and overall well being. Overcoming addiction is no small obstacle and it cannot be done alone.

Helping your loved one on their journey towards recovery and providing them with the emotional and mental support they need to overcome their addiction will look different for everyone. Depending on the individual’s needs, this might include creating a safe and supportive environment, actively listening to them without judgment, and encouraging them to seek professional help. However, there is always a chance they will continue to abuse your support. This is when drawing a boundary and saying no can push them to seek sobriety if they truly want to. Continuously providing a soft place to land is a form of enabling.

In this article, our team will offer tips on how you can best support your loved one struggling with substance abuse disorder and provide some perspective on how to distinguish the difference between supporting and enabling.

Supporting vs. Enabling in Addiction Recovery

When it comes to supporting your loved one struggling with substance abuse disorder, it is important to be aware of ways that you may be unconsciously enabling their addiction. Enabling addiction can create a cycle of dependency and make it harder for the person to overcome their addiction. Enabling may look like engaging in behaviors that help the individual continue their addictive behavior, such as giving them money, covering up their addiction, continuously providing a soft place to land, or engaging in activities when you are with them that may trigger their addiction.

Whether you have just discovered your loved one is struggling with substance abuse, or have been supporting someone in your life for years with this disease, it is vital to understand how to avoid enabling addiction and step into healthy ways of supporting. That way, you can help them achieve long lasting recovery, and strengthen your relationship by helping them feel supported, loved, and accepted.

Supporting Your Loved One with Substance Abuse Disorder

Offering support to someone with an addiction can take form in many different ways. Here are some practical and accessible ways you can help your loved one:

  1. Move away from judgment and toward acceptance

Stigma around addiction is unfortunately very common, and can often manifest into blaming someone for their addiction or assuming that their addiction is a choice they make. When you are working toward supporting your loved one with substance abuse issues, it is critical to understand their addiction as a disease and rewrite your own stories around what it means to struggle with addiction.

According to the CDC, 1 in 14 Americans report experiencing substance abuse disorder. Out of those people aged 12 and older, only 10% received professional treatment. Because of stigmas around addiction, many individuals hesitate asking for support. Educate yourself, be gentle with yourself, and contact our team at Zia Recovery Center to learn more on how you can best support your loved one.

  1. Create a safe environment

Creating a safe, supportive, and accepting environment can help your loved one to work through their addiction and toward their journey of recovery. As you navigate and determine what supporting your loved one looks like, it’s important to identify the triggers that can lead to relapse and find productive ways to avoid it. This could include removing alcohol or drugs from the home, avoiding places where they previously engaged in addictive patterns, and encouraging healthy habits. Keep in mind, whenever they continue to take for granted the support you are giving and they have worn out their welcome, drawing a boundary and saying no can be just the thing they need to seek professional help.

  1. Encourage professional help

Addiction is a medical condition, and it requires professional help to successfully overcome it. Encouraging your loved one to seek professional help and providing resources can be one of the most powerful ways you can support them.

Our passionate, experienced team at Zia Recovery Center is well equipped to support those struggling with addiction through our inpatient and outpatient programs, and through residential care.

  1. Help them stay accountable

Addiction recovery requires a significant amount of effort, and it is easy to slip back into old habits. By helping your loved one stay accountable, you can help them stay on track and avoid relapse. This might look like encouraging them to exercise with you, eat healthy, find local support groups, and get enough sleep.

  1. Provide emotional support

Substance abuse recovery can be emotionally draining, and can create deep feelings of loneliness and isolation. By providing emotional support, you can show your loved one that they are indeed not alone and that you are there to support them. Using positive affirmations and expressing your feelings of love and gratitude are great ways to show emotional support.

Take Care of Yourself

Taking the initiative to support your loved one throughout this journey is no small feat and can be emotionally, mentally, and physically demanding. Make sure you establish strong boundaries and take proactive steps to take care of yourself. Consider joining support groups and processing your experience with others. Al-Anon meetings, where you can gather with others living through similar experiences while supporting a loved one, are widely available.

Contact us today to learn more about our care programs, our professional team, and how we can help.

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