According to statistics, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 25 women in the US suffer from alcohol addiction.
As eye-opening as these kinds of stats are, what they don’t address is how many people are affected by loved ones struggling with addiction.
If you’re wondering how to support someone’s sobriety journey, first off, know that you’re not alone.
However, supporting someone through the process of recovery can be emotionally draining and traumatic. It’s vital that you take care of your mental health. If your mental health suffers, you will have less to offer, both to yourself and to your loved one.
Continue reading to find out some of the things you can do to limit the collateral damage to your mental health that can come with sobriety support.
Learn About the Mechanisms of Addiction
One of the first things we would recommend is that you get informed on the mechanisms of addiction. If someone you love has fallen victim to addiction, it’s easy to lose sight of them as a person and only see the addiction.
Addiction can drastically alter a person’s behavior, to the point that you might feel like you hardly know them anymore.
Learning how addiction works in the body can help you gain insight into their behavior, develop more compassion, and see beyond the addiction to the person you love.
Additionally, once you know how addiction plays out in the body and mind, you’ll also be able to offer more practical support. Often, family members and friends feel helpless in the face of addiction. This can add to the overwhelm and plunge you deeper into the emotional black hole.
If you can identify helpful ways you can support someone with an addiction, this can take away some of the feelings of helplessness.
Look Into Family Programs
If you’re wondering how to support someone’s sobriety and still take care of your own mental wellbeing, one of the best places to start is by looking into family programs.
Family programs take the whole family into account, not just the person with the addiction. Instead of them tackling their journey on their own, family programs involve the applicable family members so you can approach things as a team.
This can greatly aid recovery. It can also be pivotal for helping family members maintain their own mental health.
Here at Cenikor, we know firsthand the havoc that addiction can wreak on families. Because of this, we offer specialized addiction recovery support to family members so we can support you and help you support your loved one.
Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes
If you are caring for an addict, it’s doubly important that you care for yourself. Are there some lifestyle changes you’ve been meaning to make? If so, now is the time to press ‘go’ on them.
One of the most impactful lifestyle changes you can make is exercising. Not only will exercise help you feel better physically, but it can also have a big impact on mental health. Research shows that regular exercise can lower cortisol levels and significantly reduce your stress response.
In other words, if you exercise regularly, when something stressful pops up, you’ll be better equipped to handle it calmly. This is better for your own mental health, and it can also lead to better outcomes around the stress source.
Don’t Make Yourself Responsible for Their Sobriety
If you are supporting an addict through their recovery journey, it can be easy to take too much responsibility onto yourself. Family influence can have an impact on recovery, and it can be a powerful source of sobriety support.
At the same time, you also have to remember that you aren’t ultimately responsible for another’s choices. While you can be a positive influence, they are also responsible for their own recovery.
It’s not healthy, or sustainable, to mentally take on all responsibility for someone’s sobriety. If you are feeling like you’re the rock that’s holding everything from tipping over, give yourself some credit for your inner strength. At the same time, remind yourself that you’re also only human, and make room for the unexpected.
Place a little faith in the person you love and remember that positive change can come at times you least expect.
Make a List of Positive Aspects
If you’re caring for an addict, it can be all too easy to get swamped in feelings of fear, anger, resentment, or hopelessness. If you feel these emotions creeping in, one of the ways you can alter your lens is by making a list of positive aspects.
Why would you do this? What we focus on grows. It’s natural to worry when trying to figure out how to support someone’s sobriety. But sometimes worrying can perpetuate more of what is.
If you are worried about the person, start by listing out any and all positive aspects you can think of. These could be things like “they have recognized they have a problem,” “they have taken some steps towards recovery,” or “they have started looking at clinical recovery programs.”
Or maybe you are worrying about how to help someone in addiction recovery and feeling like you’re not doing enough? List out every positive aspect that comes to mind. These could be things like “I can still make them smile,” “they know they are not alone,” and “I am doing the best I know how at this moment”.
Once you find a few positive aspects to list, you might be surprised at how quickly more flow into your mind.
If you’re supporting an addict, you probably know all too well how far the negative impacts of addiction can spread. Victims of addiction suffer all kinds of pain, but sometimes it feels like the family takes an even bigger brunt.
In these situations, it’s natural to feel angry, resentful, and frustrated.
Although these feelings are normal and 100% understandable and justified—they aren’t always constructive. If you confront the person with these feelings, they might even retreat and slide further into the addiction cycle.
On the other hand, harboring feelings of anger and blame isn’t good for your own mental health.
Therefore, it’s important to try to find a way to access forgiveness. The path to forgiveness usually looks different for different people. However, a good place to start is by trying to understand the person and having empathy for the situations that brought them to this place.
These could be genetic dispossession to addiction, high-stress levels, unresolved family issues, etc.
Once you tap into forgiveness, cultivate it inside of yourself. Pretty soon, your attitude of forgiveness will flow over in your interactions with the other person. The less judgment and resentment you have towards them, the more receptive they will be towards you and your efforts to help their recovery.
Find Your Source of Healing
Learning how to help someone in addiction recovery can take a lot of resilience. Resilience is also the quality that has the most potential to protect you from the adverse mental health impact of providing sobriety support as a friend or family member.
Exercise and healthy habits can go a long way toward emotional resilience. But you might find that the most powerful way to build emotional resilience is not just through diet, sleep, or exercise.
Many of the most mentally and emotionally resilient people have something they lean on in their lives that offers a source of peace or healing. Research also shows that spirituality can significantly improve people’s resilience, especially in later life.
This can take many forms. Some people find restoration in nature or creative hobbies, others in things like surfing, sports, meditation, yoga, music, or prayer.
If there is something that brings you to a place of calm, make it a part of your daily life. If you have yet to find something, go out and look for it.
Seek Out Therapy
Caring for an addict and navigating how to support someone’s sobriety can erode your mental and emotional reserves. You might also be having to undergo very difficult situations, such as talking to a child about a parent’s addiction.
Even if you might not recognize the toll it’s taking on you, sobriety support can inflict hidden trauma. While you are managing the day-to-day stressors, it can be easy to ignore what these are doing to your mind and body.
Therefore, it’s essential that you seek out therapy before things get to be too much. A licensed therapist can help you work through trauma as it arises and offer a source of unbiased emotional support.
Join a Support Group
Last but not least, look into joining a support group. There is a myriad of support groups online for loved ones that are in the midst of learning how to help someone in addiction recovery.
Joining a support group for friends or family members can help you connect, learn from others’ experiences, and alleviate feelings of isolation.
Do You Need Help Learning How to Support Someone’s Sobriety?
Learning how to support someone’s sobriety isn’t just about uncovering ways to support the person suffering from addiction. It’s also incredibly important that you learn how to support your own mental well-being during the process.
If you do, you’ll come out a stronger person on the other side, and you’ll be a more stable source of support to your loved one.
Do you have someone in your life that you’re worried about who needs assistance with their sobriety journey? If so, they don’t need to go it alone. Neither do you.
Contact us to arrange help for your loved one and for the family members involved.