Nobody goes through recovery alone—at least not successfully. Having a support structure in place is crucial. And often, that support structure includes members of the family.

The family’s role in recovery actually starts before treatment is even sought. It is critical for family members to express their concern over the addiction—in as non-judgmental a way as possible. Don’t blame the person, but the disease; at the same time, make it clear that you love and support your family member, want to see him/her get better, and encourage the pursuit of clinical treatment.

Once the recovery actually begins, there are additional ways in which family members can be helpful and supportive. Many inpatient addiction recovery facilities will emphasize family involvement, and even encourage family members to participate in occasional group therapies. This can be so healthy, not only for showing your support but also for recognizing behaviors in your own life that might be enabling or lead to codependence.

For loved ones doing an outpatient program, you may need to assist by providing transportation to and from their therapy sessions, and also keeping the home free and clear of substances that might prove tempting.

One of the most important ways you can help your loved one, throughout the recovery process, is to remain patient. Remember that recovery takes time; it’s not going to happen overnight, but that doesn’t mean your loved one has failed or that you have failed your loved one. Also remember that your job is simply to encourage and support, and that you cannot “make” anyone recover—so don’t get mad or despondent if the recovery takes longer than you expected, or if there are setbacks and relapses along the way.

Throughout the recovery process, your kindness and encouragement will be meaningful in ways you cannot imagine—so don’t hesitate to vocalize your love and compassion for your recovering family member.

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