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How to support a loved one who is in rehab or fighting addiction

By Tim Woodley

Helping someone with problematic drug and alcohol use isn’t easy, and getting it wrong can harm their perception of rehabilitation and their likelihood of recovery. Just as you should educate yourself first on how to conduct an intervention, so too is it helpful to learn how to handle and support someone going through a non-residential or digital rehabilitation programme.


Understanding harm and the nature of addiction

From the outside, it’s baffling: why is this person hurting themselves? Why are they often angry, lashing out on those closest to them who just want to help? For someone close to someone battling addiction, it can be hard at times to love the person you see them becoming before you.

It’s important to not feel guilty about these feelings. The harm addicts cause to people around them is real and is a very common part of the experience of addiction. Attempting to suppress any feelings of anger you feel will do little to help.

Instead, we can support those fighting addiction or going through rehab by framing their actions. Addiction is a disease, and it is a disease that influences behaviour and actions heavily. The very best thing we can do to support someone battling addiction is to maintain and even extend our connection to them – even if it feels painful and difficult to do at times.

Addiction is a disease that thrives in isolation. The more a person isolates themselves and cuts away connections and relationships, the more the disease is free to take hold within them. Knowing this, we can help addicts by doing the opposite. By surrounding them with care, affection and nurturing relationships, we can build a support network that empowers them to beat the disease and succeed in rehabilitation.


Taking action: How you can support an addict

So, we’ve covered the basics of why it’s important to support an addict, even if it's difficult to do. Let’s now cover some practical examples of how you can help them fight through each day.

Stay in regular contact: Sometimes a simple phone call is all it takes to lift someone’s mood and give them the motivation they require to succeed in that day. It’s a convenient and intimate way to give support to someone who is in rehab or struggling with problematic drug and alcohol misuse, and it works.

If your loved one is entering a rehabilitation programme, however, be mindful that they may have periods where phones aren’t allowed. This is usually done to enable them to focus on tasks, education and recovery.

Make your home welcoming and available: The picture of addiction isn’t pretty. The place where a person struggling with addiction lives is likely to be neglected to some degree. As addiction takes greater hold, the fundamentals of self-care are quick to go.

If a person going through rehab or fighting addiction lives with you, you can support them and their recovery by making your home clean, welcoming and free of anything that may trigger an addictive response in them, such as alcohol in your kitchen. By doing this, you provide a safe, welcoming respite they can retreat to when the need arises.

Set firm boundaries: Having strong boundaries is perhaps the most effective way to manage the harmful tendencies of a person who is in rehab or fighting addiction. You will help yourself and your loved one by making yourself available to them, but only if you combine this with clear rules on what is and is not acceptable behaviour. Examples of this include curfews on coming back to the house and, if they are living with you, a requirement for them to maintain their hygiene and living area day to day.

Doing so will allow you to offer emotional support to them without being taken advantage of – an ideal result that will help you to sustain your support to them at a time when they need it most.


Talk to the team today

We hope you’ve found this article informative and useful. If you’d like to talk to us informally for a little more advice, or details on our Dayhab and Digital Dayhab programmes, you’re always welcome to do so.

You can call us on 0208 191 8920 or get in touch via our contact form.