If you live with an addict or a former addict who is either planning to attend therapy, at a treatment facility, or who is already out of treatment and working on their recovery, you know that it isn't always easy. While in an idyllic world, the people we love would come out of addictions the same as before they went in, this is never true. In addition, your loved one should continue fundamental personal and lifestyle changes to maintain their recovery.
If you choose to be a part of that and to stay in their life, you will play an important role in their recovery, their changing habits, and their new life. This may require sacrifices on your part, but you will help them to recover by providing support, love, and accountability.
Living with a recovering addict is not easy, but it will get better over time, and you can help shape your new life into something that you both love.
If you're wondering how to live with a recovering addict, you can consider these steps to get started.
Take Some Time for Yourself
Most addiction therapy involves helping people to set up a great deal of self-sufficiency and personal motivation. Your loved one does not need you to be there 24/7, you don't have to handle everything (and you shouldn't), and you don't have to be there for them around the clock. Make sure you take time for yourself, destress on your own, and do things that you want to do on your own time. If you find yourself falling into old patterns or doing all the work in the house, you have a problem.
They have the problem, not me, right? Actually, wrong. While it's easy to live with an addicted partner or family member without forming codependency, depending on that person, sacrificing your mental health to help that person, or constantly stressing for that person can damage your mental health. Codependency, or the process of becoming addicted to taking care of an addicted person, is also a very real possibility. There are many groups and therapists who can help you to deal with the mental and physical strain of living with a recovering addict, including group therapy, where you can sit, talk about your problems, and meet like-minded people.
Understand Ongoing Problems
Addiction does not go away, and the problems created by addiction can be around for years to come. It is important to take time to recognize those problems and to take steps to mitigate them as soon as possible. For example, you might be facing debt, legal issues, health problems, and relationship issues for years to come. Visit a financial advisor to plan how and when to pay off any debt, take steps to mitigate financial repercussions, and work to recognize all debts that your loved one may have accumulated while addicted.
It's also important to recognize that addictions hurt relationships, and even if you choose to stay in their life, you will have relationship problems. Consider talking about your problems and going to family therapy to work out unresolved or unconscious issues. While you will likely not rebuild trust overnight, it is important that you let go of past problems, focus on accepting the person you love on a day by day basis, and not guilting or shaming them for past behavior. Why? Both guilt and shame can trigger a relapse by consistently causing them to feel bad. Focusing on the past, when the other person is trying to move forward, will also cause a rift in your relationship.
It's important that you take steps to be supportive. Simple steps like removing all drugs and alcohol from your home can be immensely helpful. While you may not plan to be drug or alcohol free, it can greatly help your loved one to prevent a relapse. Similarly, you can actively listen when they disclose problems, listen without judgement, and talk to them when they need it. By being there, you can be the difference between a recovery and a relapse.
Build Healthy Habits
It is not up to you to build healthy habits. However, you can be supportive, open to new ideas, and partner in creating new healthy habits that both of you will enjoy. Cooking and eating healthy means together as a family, being active, starting hobbies together, and exercising together can all be greatly beneficial to their sobriety, as well as your mental health.
The more you know about addiction and the recovery process, the more easily you can help. Most substance abuse treatment facilities offer family resources, but you can also consider books, 12-Step materials, and other resources to learn more about your loved one's addiction, their recovery, and the future.
It's important to remember that the burden of addiction and the responsibility for recovery is on the addicted person and not on you. While it is easy to guilt yourself, or blame yourself, for their addiction, doing so will only hurt their recovery. Their choices are their own, and you can help by being supportive, working towards a better future, and accepting them without judgement.
The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective addiction treatment center in Southern California. To talk to us about treatment options at our affordable drug and alcohol rehab that fit your needs, call (844) 494-4939.