Staying sober is a lifelong process that, despite what some people believe, does not end after treatment. Recovering from addiction takes continual commitment and determination. One of the driving forces for long-term success is the environment of an individual: where they live, their everyday life, and who they surround themselves with. Depending on how these environmental factors influence the person in recovery can have a direct effect on their sobriety success. For this reason, it is vital that those who are apart of a recoverer’s life to understand how they can play their part in helping them stay clean and happy.
Individuals inactive recovery display characteristics essential for sustained recovery. These may have been learned in treatment but generally are as follows:
- Deals with problems without using drugs or alcohol and without getting stressed out
- Realizes personal boundaries and how to separate problems from other people’s
- Has at least one person to be completely honest with
- Takes time to restore physical and emotional energy when is fatigued
These are some of the essential skills needed to sustain recovery, as if these skills are not learned and reinforced, the coping skills for these situations leads to drug usage.
How to Encourage Sobriety
We as humans are not perfect. We make mistakes, but we try to rely on others to help us through hard times and guide us appropriately to not make further mistakes. If you’ve ever been to a family therapy session, you will understand how important family and friends are to the stability of someone in recovery. While we like to teach self-resilience, constant and support from family and friends is a person’s safety net. Here are some ways we can all help a person in active recovery stay clean, sober, and happy.
- Accept without judgment – The nature of addiction is plagued with stigmas and negativity already making it difficult for people to feel comfortable with their illness. Try to refrain from negativity and criticism as much as possible. Instead, express gratitude and love; continually praise reinforce their decision to maintain sober. Negative remarks and attitudes will only result in resentment and avoidance. By having positive and constructive conversations, your loved one will feel comfortable coming to you during hard times – the times they need you the most.
- Create a substance-free environment – it can actually be quite common for a family to continue to keep alcohol and paraphernalia around the house: Please Don’t! You are sending the wrong messages. The short-term satisfaction of a drink is far outweighed by the destruction it can have on your loved one’s life. Think about how their life and happiness is affected just by a seemingly innocent bottle on the shelf.
- Actively Listen – everyone needs someone to talk to, but for people in addiction recovery, that variable could be their way to release whereas before that method was unhealthily through their drug usage.
- Encourage Healthy Habits – Healthy habits include anything that adds value to the person. These can include exercising, cooking, playing games, or learning a new skill. These skills help develop a person’s interests and promote healthy choices.
- Suggest Joining a Support Group – As much as we can empathize, it is healthy to hear stories and opinions from people who are in the same position as your loved one. Support groups offer a medium to express feelings to other individuals who understand the situation they are coming from. It also offers a chance to meet like-minded individuals who have the same healthy intentions.
- Be Patient – the process of recovery is ongoing. It is a complicated process and along the way, there will be difficult times which may include relapse. This is a part of the recovery process, but it is important for family and friends to be there in their time of need. Your support will help them gain the strength to hop back on the horse and maintain their sobriety.
How family and friends behave around a loved one in active recovery can dramatically impact their well-being. Having a positive influence can be just as impactful as a negative one. Therefore, always have the best intentions for your loved one. Be patient and encouraging throughout their recovery process – but especially during their initial stages. Recovery does get easier with habit and time, but you are an important factor in their lives – be there for them. Thank you for taking the time to help better yourself for him/her – you are already doing your part!