April 24, 2020

By Katherine Butler, Substance Use Supervisor


As much as we sometimes might want to, we can’t help who we love. So what do you do when someone you care or love struggles with addiction? How can you help them be successful in their recovery and how do you take care of yourself at the same time?

It is important to understand that addiction is a brain disease that does not discriminate. It can impact anyone, and learning how to support someone in their recovery is probably not a journey that anyone ever expects to take.


Here are 3 things to do when supporting someone in their recovery:

  1. One of the most important things you can do to support someone in recovery is to just be there for themand be present. This takes patience.Recovery is a lifelong process, and it is not an easy one. It does not happen overnight and there might be several setbacks and relapses. The simple act of sitting with someone in the process of recovery and actively listening to them can help in ways that we may not understand.
  2. Support your friend or loved one in the process of recovery by accepting who they are and accepting their disease without judgement or negativity. We all have things in our past that we wish we could change, but our past is what makes us who we are now. Often, people in recovery are met with judgement from those who do not understand that recovery is not as simple as just not using a substance. So be understanding and be open to learning more about addiction and recovery.
  3. Taking care of yourself is paramount in supporting someone in recovery. We cannot take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves. Find ways to manage your stress in a healthy way and outlets to release frustration. Check out the Families First blog,Stress Relief Tips to Avoid Caregiver Burnout or find others who are in similar situations and talk to them about your similar experiences and emotions. Al-AnonNar-AnonAdult Children of Alcoholics, and Smart Recovery Family and Friends are just a few helpful resources.


Author Deb Caletti said, “That’s what people do who love you. They put their arms around you and love you when you’re not so lovable.” Simply put, that is what loving and supporting someone in recovery is all about.


And if your loved one needs treatment, Families First provides a full continuum of substance use treatment and support services.