Addiction recovery is a long and hard process. There is no one particular path that one must walk in order to recover from their drug addiction, and there certainly is no easy road either. This can make it difficult for loved ones to learn how to effectively talk about recovery to someone who is suffering from a substance or alcohol use addiction.
Here are 3 key things to keep in mind when talking about recovery.
1. Gain an understanding of the mechanics of addiction.
Gaining an understanding of what addiction is and what parts of the brain it affects helps in identifying what to expect from your loved ones enduring the recovery process. In learning how addiction affects the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex aids in understanding as to why a craving may be so intense. It can be helpful to understand how patterns of addiction hijacks the body’s reward system, skewing the dopaminergic response to ingested substances, and tricking the body to elevate the repeated use of substances above all other biological drives. Of course, repeated use often leads to a higher tolerance level because the body is growing accustomed to the substance and needs more of it to release the same levels of dopamine it did the first time. Comprehending how the body responds to the drug helps us to be mindful of what to expect from our loved ones, as well as developing empathy for the war that wages on in their minds and bodies.
2. Understand that there is a great potential for relapse
In someone who has been a regular substance user, the body and the brain have become adjusted to the presence of the drug or alcohol in both a biological and psychological sense. It is not uncommon for a stressful situation to arise and the individual to be tempted to revert to their addictive patterns. This is because it is often the most practiced way that the body and mind know how to cope. So before judging and being critical of a relapse, remember that relapse is inevitable without the opportunity to learn healthy coping skills and establishing new ways of relating to stress. Understanding, compassion, and consistency are what they need most from you.
3. Keep your boundaries
It is very tempting as the “healthy individual” to want to save or rescue a loved one suffering from an addiction, however, this actually does more harm than good. The healing process requires the person in recovery to come to terms with the consequences of their actions and find the courage to take responsibility for them. If a loved one comes in with the goal of rescuing, they are only prolonging the process of recovery by enabling the struggling individual to avoid facing the road that led to addiction.
There is no need to pry about their usage or micromanage their recovery, as this is not your role, and can lead to them backing away from much-needed support for fear of judgment. Healthy boundaries look like caring for yourself and your loved one while believing that you each are responsible for the choices and decisions made.
If you have a loved one who is ready for recovery, please do not hesitate to reach out to us! At Riviera Recovery, we are committed to helping those who come to us on their path to recovery and living a life worth living. This is not a simple road, but Riviera Recovery offers many different services to help you and your loved one on the path to liberty.