Supporting Recovery: Three Simple Truths For Friends And Families

Overcoming addiction is a long, hard road — not only for the individuals in recovery but also for the friends and family members trying to support them. Most of us who find ourselves in that support role will quickly encounter three basic truths about recovery.

You Can’t Love Someone Out Of Addiction

There’s no question that the love of those close to them can be a tremendous help to those attempting recovery. Your emotional support can be an important contributor to an addict’s success in sticking out a recovery program and addressing the daily challenges of facing their addiction. But your love alone is not enough.

Success also hinges on participation in a program that best suits the person in recovery, and the overall dedication and resolve of that individual. As someone supporting an individual attempting to overcome addiction, it’s important to remember that if that person is unable to sustain a healthy, long-term recovery it’s not because you didn’t love them enough.

There Are No Guarantees In Recovery

There are many types of programs for people attempting to overcome and manage addiction. There are 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, where people can participate regularly while continuing to live at home and work or attend school. There are residency programs where the individuals focus on their recovery full-time for specific period while living in a treatment facility. And there are numerous variations in between.

Many of these programs can be effective in helping individuals face addiction and begin recovery, but none of them work for everyone all the time. The sad reality is that as many as 60 percent of those attempting recovery will fail and relapse. And achieving long-term recovery can take multiple attempts and many years. So always keep in mind that treatment programs don’t come with guarantees. (Note: if your friend or family member is considering a program that DOES offer a guarantee of success, they should approach it with care and skepticism.)

You Don’t Have To Go It Alone

Supporting someone who is recovering from addiction can be an isolating experience. First, there are the social stigmas associated with addiction that can make it difficult to talk about with others. And most of us are not equipped by training and education with how to address the challenges of addiction recovery, from helping to evaluate recovery programs to providing the proper emotional support for the recovering addict.

But there are programs and organizations dedicated specifically to supporting you as you support your family member or friend in recovering from addiction. Al-Anon is the most widely known, but there are many such programs offered by community groups and faith communities, where you can share and exchange thoughts and experiences with people going through the same thing as you. This kind of support can provide the foundation for your success in coping with your loved one’s addiction and recovery.

The demands of helping someone close to you overcome addiction can be daunting and exhausting. Attaining and sustaining recovery is a long-haul proposition. Keeping the three points above in mind will aid you in maintaining a balanced perspective, manage goals and expectations, and help you help them succeed in recovery.

This article was originally featured on the Life Assurance Recovery Blog. John Roesch is a Certified Arise Interventionist and Certified Addictions Recovery Coach for Life Assurance Recovery in New York City.