If you know someone who is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, you may be wondering if there is anything you can to do to help them. The closer they are to you, such as being a dear friend or family member, the more you may want to help.

It's no secret that when a person struggles with an addiction, this can put a massive strain on every relationship in their life. It seems like the people closest to them are impacted the most, which may be why you have a desire to help. While you probably have good intentions and want to see the person get healthy, you must approach the person cautiously. Not every addict is looking to be saved and approaching them, and the situation incorrectly could develop resentment and anger-on both sides.

How Do I Help a Recovering Addict or Alcoholic?

While you should do what you can to help the addict in your life get into recovery, keep in mind that it can take months or even years before they are convinced to go. After they attend, it will be a lifelong process for them to stay clean. Thus, if you're wondering how you can help a recovering addict or alcoholic, consider some of the tips listed below.

Educate Yourself

When it comes to drug addiction or alcoholism, these can be incredibly complex. In addition, recovery is often one of the hardest things a person will go through in their life-and everyone approaches recovery in their way. They may learn some general coping skills, but how they apply these to their life will be as unique as they are.

Thus, if you want to help a person recover, you need to educate yourself. This includes learning what you can about addiction, the recovery process, psychological changes the person might be going through, related health issues, potential triggers, and enablement.

Once you have taken the time to educate yourself on addiction and recovery, you may be able to better relate to your loved one. However, in addition to educating yourself on these topics in general, keep in mind that you don't have all the answers. Please don't assume you know exactly what they are going through. To figure that out, you'll need to educate yourself on your loved one's unique circumstances.

Realize There May be Extended Problems

A person going to rehab and recovering from addiction is just one step in this process. Again, this is a life-long pursuit, and just because they have figured out a way to overcome their dependency on drugs or alcohol, that doesn't mean they won't experience other issues. When you realize there might be widespread problems, this can help you prepare and plan.

Some of the extended problems that might arise during this process include financial issues. If their addiction had an impact on their career and/or they have addiction-related expenses (including DUIs, court fees, or other fines), this could affect their ability to get on their feet. They may also be suffering from health impacts from their use. Some of these might clear up when they get clean, but these problems for life might also impact them.  

Relationships with other people might also be an issue. In some cases, it may take years for you to be able to trust the loved one again. There may be specific individuals who may never be able to forgive them. Also, there is always the possibility that the addict will relapse. 

Any of these things can cause stress for your loved one, as can a host of new problems. If the emotions become overbearing, the desire to return to old behaviors could be incredibly strong. Knowing these things in advance can help you recognize these potential threats and help your loved one develop a plan to deal with them in a healthy, constructive manner.

Maintain Reasonable Expectations

In a lot of cases, people believe that once a person goes to rehab, they will be “cured” and will come home and everything will be the way it once was. They might also think that addiction was the only problem that the addict had in their life. Unfortunately, this isn't true. Life is complicated, and there are numerous reasons why a person might feel compelled to abuse drugs or alcohol. Just because they have found a way to overcome their addiction, that doesn't mean that the original issue has been solved. It's also possible for new problems to arise.

When your loved one returns from rehab, it's important to remember that they are still a work in progress. They have taken the first essential steps to get healthy and live their best life possible, but there will always be work that needs to be done. 

By maintaining reasonable expectations and knowing that life can be a struggle for everyone, not just the addict, this will keep things in perspective and reduce the chances of you becoming disappointed. If that happens, your loved one may sense your emotions and feel like they failed, which could lead to a relapse.

Change to Support Their Sobriety

If you want to help your loved one succeed in their recovery, you must do what you can to support them. This might include the following:

  • Avoiding situations where substance abuse might occur
  • Finding new friends who embrace sobriety
  • Getting rid of all addictive substances in the home
  • Engaging in new, sober activities together

Ask Them What They Need

One of the best ways to support your loved one is to ask them what they need from you. This might include being there when they need to talk or making sure they eat healthy meals. Since they know themselves and their situation better than anybody, they know what they need from you. If you are unable to fulfill their request, you need to let them know and suggest something else you might do instead. This ensures that you are supporting them to the best of your abilities but don't demand more than you are able or willing to give.

Find Your Own Support

While it was challenging for your loved one to go through recovery, it can also be tough for you to support them. You want to be there for them and give them what they need, but you will also need support. This process can be emotionally taxing, and going to therapy or finding support groups locally or online can be beneficial. You aren't expecting your loved one to go through this alone, and you shouldn't either. 

Addiction is an incredibly painful and challenging thing to endure-both for the addict and the people around them. Deciding to get help and go to rehab often takes a lot of courage and requires support. If you have decided you want to be there for your recovering loved one, you need to know what you are getting into. Your love and devotion may be just what they need to be successful.