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How to Cope with a Recovering Drug Addict or Alcoholic

Addiction effects the entire family. After recovery or even during recovery, the family will face consequences of the addict’s poor choices such as financial difficulties and health problems due to the chronic stress of dealing with an addict. When a family member who is in recovery comes back into the home, the family should maintain a sober lifestyle as well including keeping alcohol and drugs from the home and avoiding places of temptation with the person in recovery.

Lifestyle changes for the entire family is imperative if the family member in recovery is to stay sober. For instance if your loved one had an issue with gambling, it would be important for the family not to go to a casino that supports gambling, or if your loved one had an addiction to alcohol, you would not want to take them to a restaurant that has a bar.

It is important that you help your family member in recovery replace their unhealthy activities with healthier activities. These activities the family can do together could include:

  • Riding bikes
  • Gardening
  • Painting/crafts
  • Playing board games
  • Kayaking/Canoeing
  • Amusement park
  • Going to a museum
  • Attending a fair or festival

There can be tremendous stress that family members can endure while supporting their loved one in recovery. Finding outlets to relieve any stress that can occur with dealing with the situation of a family member in recovery can be vital for mental, physical and spiritual health. Finding a support group, someone that you can talk with and pray with, and healthy activities like exercise and reading can reduce stress.

Family members are not the only ones who experience stress, the person in recovery can as well. Some of the most common stressors for a person in recovery are: finances, relationships, work, and family conflicts. Offering help to alleviate the stress can be beneficial to your loved one such as journaling, exercising, praying and spending time with God. Do not just offer the activities but offer to do them with your loved one. Doing healthy activities together will help your loved one in recovery see that there are other activities to do besides drinking or drugs.

Have realistic expectations for your loved one in recovery, it takes time to adjust to an entire different way of coping and dealing with life. The beginning stages of recovery can be exciting and very overwhelming for a newly sober person. The first 3 months of sober living can be the most difficult, try not to put a lot of pressure upon your loved one during this time. Avoid pushing them to do too much too soon, remember they are adjusting to a completely different lifestyle. Allow your loved one to make mistakes and to learn from them, do not enable them by rescuing them from their mistakes.

Let go of all fear that you could cause your loved one to relapse, nothing you say or do can make that happen. If they want to use again, they will find a way. Do not use your family member’s past against them, if they have turned their lives over to God and repented then it is washed in the blood of Christ and their sins are forgiven. Your loved one will invariably lose the people they partied with and will at times feel lonely, let them know that you love and care about regularly.

Have open and honest communication daily with your loved one. Make a family plan together that includes a daily schedule, short and long-term goals, and relapse prevention. Support financially as you can for a limited time period and never give money to support their former habits. Give them a hand-up not a hand-out.

Learn as much as you can about addiction and the recovery process to support your loved one better. A great resource is New Life Spirit of Recovery with Stephanie Tucker. Supporting a family member in recovery may not be what you planned for, especially if that family member is your child, but you can learn to manage in a more effective way. Take care of yourself first, by getting the proper rest, exercising, and having ways to reduce any stress.

Addiction destroys lives and families, but God is the redeemer and He can rebuild from the destruction of the enemy.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

What ways have you managed to cope with a loved one’s recovery?

About Stephanie Reck

Stephanie has a heart and passion to see broken lives restored and redeemed through Jesus Christ. She writes through her personal experiences and her educational and professional background. She has over 17 years experience in counseling, and has a Master's degree in Social Work, Bachelor's degree in Psychology, and is a Licensed Belief Therapist. Stephanie has been married for 16 years,and has one grown son. Stephanie's desire through her writings is to bring hope and encouragement to the body of Christ, that no matter what you have been though or going through, there is restoration and redemption through Jesus Christ.

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