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12 Ways to Help a Recovering Addict
A recovering addict is always in a state of recovery. There are plenty of ways that you can help them. I’ve seen plenty of examples of recovered addicts who have used one or more of these methods to give their lives purpose and direction, which actively combat the cravings that may come back time and again. Some people do well by becoming caretakers of plants or animals, but I don’t suggest that you force them into that role. That’s a role that they can choose on their own. However, there are 12 tried-and-true ways that you can help an addict through the recovery process.
Learn the facts about addiction.The more you know about the addiction and recovery process, the better you can empathize with what the addict is going through. Understanding where the addict is coming from will allow you to connect in more meaningful and authentic ways.
Be a source of strength by not doing things associated with the addiction.If the addict always had to have a hit before going to the bar, don’t go to the bar. If having a drink or two made them more likely to want to party harder, avoid drinking with them. Actively look for options that are not connected to the former places they did drugs or the people they did them with.
Join a support group.A support group can help you with issues that don’t come up in the books about addiction. They give you a community of people in your situation that can help you find ways to better deal with your situation. Support groups are as much about helping you cope as they are with your addict friend.
Be encouraging every day.When you stay positive, it’s easier for your rehabbing friend to stay positive. A little encouragement every day might be the thing that keeps them going. Remember, praise is a powerful tool, but it has to be genuine.
Find a hobby that the two of you can share.Addicts are most likely to fall back into their addictions when they have idle time. Find a hobby that you can share and will keep the two of you busy. It can be an intimate bonding experience like a dance class or something a bit less intense like learning to paint.
Join a book club together.A book club might seem like a stretch, but giving a recovering addict a reading assignment gives them something to do when you aren’t around. It gives them the responsibility of reading and having read a certain amount during the week.
Join a gym or yoga class.Being physically active gets the adrenaline and endorphins flowing in the body. These chemicals make the body feel good and can actually replace the old addiction with a new, healthy one.
Set boundaries to stop supporting poor decisions.If the addict starts doing things that aren’t good for them, let them know. Set strict boundaries as to what is acceptable and what isn’t. Make sure that if one of these boundaries is broken, you follow through with the consequence. Being wishy-washy is bad for you and worse for them.
Understand codependency and avoid it.Sometimes, the recovering addict falls back into addiction because you help them by taking care of things that they should otherwise handle on their own.
Don’t cover up mistakes that they make.Let the recovering addict feel the full consequences of their actions. This is the only way that they will be able to see how bad they are making things for themself. This is the motivation that is needed to facilitate the change from addict to recovery.
Don’t bail them out of financial problems.In the same way you shouldn’t cover up any mistakes that are made by a recovering addict, giving them money to cover expenses shouldn’t be done. If they can count on you for cash, there is a chance that they will use this to their advantage and lean on you instead of dealing with the financial consequences of their actions.
Don’t do anything for the addict that they can do for themselves.Being an enabler doesn’t always mean going and getting the drugs or helping the addict take them. It could be something as simple as doing the laundry or the dishes and giving them the extra free time to get into trouble. Give the addict something to do to fill every minute of the day, and it will go a long way toward keeping the shadow of addiction from returning.