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10 Things You Can Do to Support Yourself during a Loved One’s Recovery

You speak regularly with your loved one’s therapists and substance abuse treatment professionals about the effects of addiction and how treatment helps. You keep up with your loved one’s progress and ask questions to make sure that treatment is progressing. You likely have learned quite a bit about addiction in general, including the specifics of how different drugs impact the brain and change the behavior of the user, either through reading online or talking to other people. You also likely spend an hour a week – or more – in therapy with your loved one in recovery, working on the issues that developed through active addiction and determining how best to move forward and rebuild your relationship in sobriety.

Though your focus on supporting your loved one is important and necessary to helping your loved one stabilize in recovery, it is also important that you direct an equal amount of attention on your own personal healing. Addiction is exhausting for family members, taking a toll on physical and mental health. Just as you are directed on an airplane to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others, when it comes to finding balance and wellness in life, you must first make sure that you are stable before you will be able to help others find their own sense of stability.

Here are a few ways to work toward grounding yourself in recovery as you help your loved one do the same:

  1. Go to personal therapy.Though you will likely attend family therapy with your loved one and focus on how best to repair that relationship, it is important that you also take time out to heal on your own independently. Your work with a personal therapist may in part focus on how you are doing with your loved one’s recovery, but it can also look at what you need to feel happy and content in all areas of your life and in all your relationships.
  2. Go to the doctor.It’s not uncommon for family members to report that they often canceled personal doctor appointments due to issues with an addicted family member or simply did not think about getting the annual checkups or screenings that are necessary for optimum physical health. Make an appointment, get a physical, and get the vaccinations, screenings, exams, and referrals that are indicated.
  3. Go to the dentist.Just as many avoid the doctor, dental visits often fall to the wayside as well. Get a cleaning, x-rays, and a checkup, and make any follow-up appointments as needed.
  4. Get on a budget.Addiction is expensive for the entire family and debt, if not bankruptcy and foreclosure, is exceedingly common. The only way to address it proactively is to create a budget and start making choices today that move you toward being out of debt and on the path to saving for emergencies and retirement.
  5. Focus on nutrition.Proper nutrition and weight management can have a huge impact on how you feel physically and mentally. If you struggle with creating a positive diet for yourself, work with a nutritional therapist to get things rolling healthfully.
  6. Begin a workout regimen. Similarly, setting up a workout plan that focuses on managing any current physical issues including injury, chronic pain, or weight loss can boost mood as well as physical health and energy levels.
  7. Get good sleep.Going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time every morning is a great place to start when it comes to positive sleep hygiene. Additionally, ensuring that where you sleep is dark and restful can have a big impact. Though insomnia and worry can often conflict with your ability to sleep regularly, creating change in this one area can make a big difference in your ability to manage challenges in your loved one’s recovery.
  8. Seek out positive friendships.Having positive people in your life who understand what you have been through and don’t judge you as navigate the process of supporting your loved one in recovery is critical. This is not something you should attempt to manage alone. The support of a community and good friends can make all the difference in the world and lend you the strength you need to get through the tough times.
  9. Address career goals.It’s not uncommon for family members to continually sacrifice their careers in order to manage the ongoing crises of addiction. Once you are feeling stable and focused, it’s important to name your career goals (e.g., what heights you would like to attain in your current career, a new career that interests you, or what certifications and skills you need to make those goals a reality) and then write out a path with a reasonable timeline that will help you to take smaller steps toward realizing the larger goal.
  10. Maintain boundaries.Addiction is a disorder that is often characterized by a lack of boundaries. People living in addiction are heavily focused on doing whatever they have to to continue drinking and getting high no matter what the cost. This means that you will need to be able to objectively ascertain when something is not appropriate for your life and take action to maintain boundaries that keep you emotionally and physically safe.

Does Your Loved One Need More Help Staying Focused On Recovery?