Whether it’s a spouse, sibling, friend, or another loved one, supporting someone who’s trying to overcome substance abuse and addiction is often a complex and difficult task. Seeking professional guidance is a great first step, but there are additional ways to help and show encouragement. Here are a few tips for offering caring, compassionate support to a loved one struggling with addiction.
Remember That Addiction Is a Disease, Not a Choice
It’s a common mistake to think that those battling addiction can simply choose to alter or control their substance abuse habits. However, the truth is that addiction is a compulsive disease that affects the brain, not a lifestyle choice or moral failure. As with any other medical problem, supporting a loved one with an addiction will involve seeking professional treatment services and relinquishing any sense of direct control over the situation.
Put a Stop to Codependency
Ironically, family members and close friends of a person with addiction sometimes end up unintentionally enabling or fostering the substance abuse in an effort to show extra love and support. This is known as codependency, and it can be both difficult to recognize and damaging to the addicted person’s long-term recovery prospects. Professional guidance for the family members of an addicted loved one can help minimize codependency-induced patterns, and it can offer everyone positive, effective strategies for showing support.
Anticipate and Accept the Reality of Relapse
Instead of worrying that a loved one receiving treatment will eventually relapse, remember that relapsing is often an uncomfortable but unavoidable part of the recovery process. Instead of treating a relapse as a failure or a reason to give up hope, take it as a sign that it may be time to return to the doctor and develop a new treatment strategy. A relapse is a stressful event, but approaching it pragmatically and optimistically can help the struggling person continue to work toward treatment goals.
If substance abuse and addiction are negatively impacting someone you love, seeking professional guidance is a critical decision that can help combat the disease. Founded in 1984, Recovery Place has helped more than 20,000 people in the Savannah area through therapy, medical attention, and other support services. To schedule a tour to learn more about our services, contact us online or call (912) 355-1440 today.
Created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12-step model of recovery has been adopted by many support groups to help members overcome addiction to alcohol, narcotics, gambling, overeating, and other substances and behaviors. While many people know the first step—admitting there’s a problem—they aren’t sure what to expect when entering a 12-step program.
Understanding the Spiritual Undertones
There are some spiritual undertones within the 12 steps, but most programs aren’t affiliated with any religion. The guidelines recognize that an undefined higher power is at work; however, whether that higher power is God, love, nature, the Universe, or something else entirely, each individual can interpret the language to apply to one’s own spiritual or religious beliefs.
A Typical Meeting
Whether attending for themselves or to support a family member, many people feel apprehensive before their first meeting. Knowing what to expect can ease some of this anxiety. The meeting may be in a church or community center, and there may be quite a few people there. Some may introduce themselves, while others will stick to themselves. As they arrive, people will take seats around the person serving as the chairperson. The chairperson will start by leading certain group traditions, like reciting the Serenity Prayer, reviewing group literature and rules, and welcoming newcomers. Those who feel comfortable can introduce themselves, but no one is obligated. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no need to stand up and say, “I am an addict.”
Types of Meetings
Where the conversation goes next depends on the type of meeting, such as:
- Discussion meeting: The chairperson leads a discussion on a chosen topic from group literature.
- Beginner’s meeting: Led by a long-time member in recovery, beginner’s meetings take several forms, from Q&A sessions to discussion of the first few steps.
- Speaker meeting: A member in recovery may share their experience and how the 12-step program has helped them move forward.
- Step meeting: The group discusses specific steps from the guidelines.
- Service meeting: Members discuss service opportunities and activities.
There are several other types of meetings, some open to the public and some closed. The chairperson will guide the discussion according to the group’s policies.
Start the Journey to Recovery
While some debate the effectiveness of 12-step programs, the Journal of Addictive Disorders has published studies indicating that those who attend regularly for a long period of time may have a better chance of abstaining from addictive substances and behaviors than those who don’t. A strong support system and quality substance abuse treatment program can also help with recovery. Recovery Place offers a safe place for patients to explore their health and addiction issues while focusing on healing in a therapeutic environment. Our behavioral health team may be able to help address your addiction concerns, and we accept all private insurance providers. Call Recovery Place today at (912) 355-1440 to learn about our admissions process.