Recovering from addiction is a lifelong journey, not possible through a single action or event. Family or friends can help addicts take the first step by arranging interventions and working with an interventionist to formulate a treatment programme tailored to the addiction, but it’s vital to recognise that just as the addict needs to be committed to the programme, family and friends must support the process throughout.
An overwhelming amount of research demonstrates that such emotional support is an integral part of recovering from addiction; indeed a drop-off in support and family conflict in particular, can trigger a relapse in the recovering addict.
The more involved family and friends can be the better; addiction intervention is a demonstration of severe care.. Of course the overall responsibility for sticking with an addiction recovery programme lies with the addict, but family and friends can be involved in a number of ways:
- Supporting ongoing treatment with gestures as simple as accompanying or taking the addict to therapy appointments, or providing company immediately after an appointment.
- Listening when the addict needs to talk. Whether it’s to discuss the treatment itself, the emotion impact of addiction, or the impact the addiction has had on other people, it’s important that addicts have the chance to express how they feel, outside of the treatment programme.
- Voicing admiration in the addict’s progress. The initial intervention calls for in-depth discussion of the ill effects that the addiction has had, so as the treatment progresses and the addict recovers, vocal expressions of pride in the way he or she is responding to the intervention programme is absolutely critical to self-esteem and continued recovery.
- Not exposing the addict to temptation. Treat therapy as a team by avoiding any of the actions or behaviours associated with the addiction – particularly in the addict’s presence.