It is very common for addictions to put a strain on the closest relationships in the life of individuals with a substance use disorder. This goes for people who abuse and are addicted to illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and even alcohol. If you live with a recovering alcoholic, you may be concerned about your role in their lives and how it affects their recovery.
Recovery is a life-long process. This can make living with a recovering alcoholic seem like a daunting task that requires you to change your entire lifestyle. While some adjustments should be made, that is not entirely true. There are many practical and easy-to-implement ways of supporting the person in your home who is recovering from alcohol addiction.
From ways to support the recovering alcoholic in your life to ways to support yourself, living with an alcoholic can be managed. Here at Coastal Detox, we know that recovery may often start with medical detox. However, it rarely ends there. This is why we strive to provide resources that go beyond detox to help not only those in recovery but also their families.
The Importance of Support for Recovering Alcoholics
When someone is in recovery, it is common for them to feel alone in their struggles. Subsequently, family and friends are indispensable to a recovering alcoholic. Without a support system, the risk of relapse is significantly higher. Therefore, not only does someone need detox and specialized addiction care, but they also need the involvement of their family.
Addiction is often referred to as a disease that affects the entire family. The addict is rarely the only person who is affected by their addictions. Not only is the family affected, but their involvement in the healing process is also crucial for a successful recovery from addiction. Throughout the recovery process, the emotional support and encouragement provided by the family of an addict are essential.
If you’re wondering how to help a recovering alcoholic in your life, help is available. We have compiled 7 tips that explain how to help a recovering alcoholic when you live under the same roof.
7 Tips for Living with a Recovering Alcoholic
Living with a recovering alcoholic requires you to be ready to support your loved one throughout their recovery. Many people who live with a recovering alcoholic face the challenge of not knowing what to expect or what to do. While no addiction is the same, there are many common ways you can support the person in your home who is recovering from alcohol addiction.
Learn About Their Addiction
Every addiction is unique, and depending on the substance, it can differ from other types of addiction. The needs of a recovering alcoholic are often different from someone who is recovering from other substances. Therefore, it’s important to learn everything you can about your loved one’s particular addiction. This can include:
- How much did they drink/use per day/week/month
- What were the symptoms before, during, and after using
- What is their specific relapse trigger
- How alcohol addiction differs from addiction to other drugs
Learn About the Recovery Process
As the family of an addict, you are often an integral part of their recovery process. Just as recovering addicts need the support of their family and friends, they also rely on you to educate yourself about what they’re going through. Fortunately, there are many programs available for family members of a recovering alcoholic.
After your loved one completes alcohol detox treatment, it is likely they will attend an alcohol addiction treatment program at an addiction treatment center. When they do, there will likely be family therapy. Through these therapy sessions, family members are offered a chance to learn about their loved one’s addiction and the recovery process.
When you understand the recovery process and are involved in it, you gain the ability to use valuable intervention skills. By knowing how to handle common stressors and situations, you will be better equipped to help your loved one.
Avoid Their Triggers
When you understand addiction, you can avoid triggering the recovering alcoholic in your life. Many people recovering from alcohol addiction find certain situations that make them want to drink. For instance, recovering alcoholics may struggle with triggers of boredom. Therefore, you should try to engage recovering alcoholics in activities that provide stimulation. These can include activities such as watching movies, playing board games, or any other activity that the recovering alcoholic enjoys.
Certain situations, such as social situations, may also push a recovering alcoholic to want to drink. Therefore, it’s important to avoid pressuring recovering alcoholics into drinking socially. On the other hand, recovering alcoholics may also have a difficult time when others drink in front of them. Therefore, you should try to avoid placing recovering alcoholics in situations that make them want to drink.
Set and Maintain Boundaries
When the recovering alcoholic you live with is tempted to drink, they may begin pushing boundaries and lying to get what they want. Because of this, family members must enforce boundaries that they set. While it may be uncomfortable at the moment, preventing relapse is entirely worth it.
Boundaries with a family member who is a recovering alcoholic can include the following:
- Not giving the family member in recovery money for alcohol when they ask for it
- Refusing to lie or make excuses for the family member
- Not supporting them if they choose to drink instead of making healthy choices
- Asking them to avoid people they used to drink with who haven’t committed to supporting sobriety
- Make it clear that you will not tolerate them drinking in the house or for any reason
If recovering alcoholic does not abide by the boundaries set, family members must sit down with recovering alcoholic and discuss the issue. Consistent communication is important for all relationships, especially ones that involve recovering alcoholics.
The recovering alcoholic in your life is not the only person who will experience stress due to alcohol addiction. The family also is negatively impacted in these situations. Therefore, supporting yourself is necessary.
It’s important to take care of yourself and get outside support if you need it. There are many options for support when you are living with a recovering alcoholic. Talk to a therapist, family members, or friends about your feelings related to recovering alcoholics. If feelings related to recovering alcoholics become too overwhelming, then consider seeking help from a doctor or counselor.
Stress is a natural consequence of recovering from alcoholism. Further, stress is often what pushes people to seek relief through drugs or alcohol. The family living with a recovering alcoholic is also likely to face stress. To stay healthy and cope with the recovering alcoholic in your life, you have to learn how to manage your stress.
Stress can cause physical responses such as increased blood pressure or even headaches. Therefore, managing stress is necessary for maintaining a positive mental state. A few ways you can manage your stress include:
- Regular exercise
- Engaging in activities you enjoy
- Attending therapy sessions
- Practicing self-care
It is also important to stay mindful of what you eat and drink. Your diet can impact your blood pressure just as much as stress or exercise can. You should aim for a balanced, nutritious diet that contains vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
How to Handle Your Loved One Relapsing
Despite our best efforts, there are times when a loved one will relapse. Knowing how to handle a relapse when your loved one is a recovering alcoholic can help you manage the situation and how it affects you. First, you mustn’t take it personally, he or she is doing the best they can. However, addiction is difficult to overcome, and most individuals in recovery will relapse at some point.
The following steps can help you and your loved one navigate a relapse:
- Remind yourself that it is a disease, and recovering from addiction takes time
- Ask your loved one if they would like your support as they work through this relapse
- If you suspect relapse but are not sure: consult with other friends and family to see if they share your concerns
- Express your concerns with the recovering alcoholic in a kind, caring, and non-judgmental manner
- If they have a sponsor, suggest that they contact them. Or contact their sponsor for them
- Encourage them to attend a support group meeting or attend therapy sessions
The relapse does not mean that your loved one has failed to overcome their addiction. Sometimes, relapse is just a part of the recovery process. If a relapse can be contained and limited to one mistake, most alcoholics in recovery can continue to work towards complete sobriety and healing.
Overcoming Alcohol Addiction with Coastal Detox
If you or a loved one is experiencing alcohol addiction, getting help as soon as possible can stop the damaging effects of alcohol addiction. Before entering a treatment program comes detox. Here at Coastal Detox, we offer detoxification programs to help you prepare for the next steps in recovery. To learn more about our programs, contact us today.