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Family Recovery Holding Hands

Family /
Supporting Your Loved One In Recovery

You may think that when someone finishes treatment, he or she shouldn't need further help to remain sober. The truth is that addiction is a chronic, progressive disease, and recovery is a lifelong process. That is why continuing care (care after a person leaves treatment) is so important. Research shows that people who continue to take steps to get help after treatment are far more likely to succeed than those who do nothing.

What is recovery?

Recovery from addiction is a lifelong journey of growth and development. Detoxification and treatment are only the first steps. Recovery is an ongoing process: typically formal treatment followed by continued support from a sponsor, Twelve Step group members, family members, and clean and sober friends. To maintain lifelong abstinence, your loved one must develop new problem-solving skills for stressful situations, and must be prepared to work hard on personal growth and spirituality, dealing with any emotional or physiological triggers that could lead back to old ways of coping - by drinking and using.


How can you help your loved one in recovery?

  • Encourage your loved one to work the Twelve Step program
  • Be totally honest with yourself about the severity of your loved one's use. We often don't want others to know about our family's deteriorating situation - but when we do break our silence; we may find others who have been similarly affected.
  • Stop enabling the alcoholic or addict by allowing him or her to continue to use without consequences. Learn to let go and to detach with love.
  • Help your loved one plan for or avoid high-risk situations such as conflicts with others, social or peer pressure and environments where alcohol or other drugs are used. Even celebration can trigger a relapse if they are associated with drinking or using.
  • Don't keep alcohol or other drugs in the home - including prescription medicines. You may have to keep these in a safe place or carry them with you.

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Understanding what your loved one experienced in treatment

Now that your loved one is home from treatment, you may wonder what the treatment experience is like and how it helps transform a chemically dependent person's life. Often when addicted people enter treatment, they don't really know what to expect. Once a person is in treatment, the staff and setting there must install a sense of hope. Hope is foundational to recovery.

Incoming patients must be stabilised medically and emotionally. Some will go through physical withdrawal. A mental withdrawal is also needed. Once patients reach a calm state in which they can think clearly, without feelings of anger and fear, they are given the space and time to look critically at their lives. They are also given a respectful, supportive environment in which they can make life changes.

Continuing care is essential to your loved one's recovery

You may think that when someone finishes treatment, he or she shouldn't need further help to remain sober. The truth is that addiction is a chronic, progressive disease, and recovery is a lifelong process. That is why continuing care (care after a person leaves treatment) is so important. Research shows that people who continue to take steps to get help after treatment are far more likely to succeed than those who do nothing.

Important components of continuing care:

  • Attending Twelve Step meetings on a regular basis
  • Finding a sponsor who has been in recovery awhile and can serve as a guide
  • For some recovering people, moving from treatment into a transitional living situation (e.g. a halfway house) until their living circumstances are more stable.