There is no disease that destroys the social fabric of the victim’s life, family, and whole world, quite like addiction. It affects everything, and everyone, in the addict’s sphere of influence in some way. Therefore, to combat this ailment, everyone must participate to help the patient to heal.
Professional rehabilitation services like Crownview Co-Occurring Institute offer a strict regimen of activities to give the addict somewhere to focus their energies. One of the biggest barriers to recovery is a relapse into old habits and old friends. This is why the residential programs offer such a wide array of alternatives. But, when the patient arrives home, there must be a group of supporters there as well to help them to stay focused on recovery.
Alcohol and drug dependency is a disease that is particularly hard on those around the patient. These people love the addict, but, are often frightened and embarrassed by their actions. Mood swings can be set off by the smallest, most insignificant comment. This results in everyone feeling like they have to constantly monitor their actions around the patient.
The patient feels alone and surrounded all at the same time. They need the security of a close knit group, but, yearn for solitude at the same time. They desperately want their life to change, and simultaneously wish that everything could just go back to the way it was. This internal battle is the cause of many misplaced harsh comments and actions.
As a member of the support network of a recovering addict, one will need to be sensitive to the mood of the patient. The supporters must remember the internal struggles of the addict and try to overlook the moodiness while trying to reassure the patient they are there for them. Difficult as this seems, it is necessary for the process. Keeping the addict focused on alternate behavior, while trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy is the key.
While it is preferable to remove all trace of alcohol and drugs from the addict’s reach, this is not usually possible. So, the supporters must help the patient to know what his/her choices would be in those situations. Such as non-alcoholic alternatives in a restaurant, or other gathering place, where alcohol is being served.
The support group will also wish to give the addict places to go which are different from the same old haunts. The same locations lead to the same people. The same people lead to the same activities. Soon the patient is in a relapse. So, new places + new people = new activities and no relapse.
While providing these alternate places and activities, the supporters must be wary that the addict is not merely substituting their addiction of choice with a new one. Any activity can be used to take the place of the addiction. For instance, smokers who quit by chewing gum. Many of these people actually quit smoking and substitute that addiction with chewing gum non-stop. This does not help the addiction, it only delays a relapse. But, most people who ‘quit’ using the substitution method usually relapse.
In order to successfully recover from addiction, the addict must face their addiction. The patient must also, essentially, start a new life. This balance, though difficult to achieve, is possible with the help, and support, of friends and family.
Do not expect immediate results with this process. Recovery is long, difficult process, and always has some setbacks. The patient’s family and friends must always keep this in mind while remaining forgiving and supportive. There will be relapses and temptation. But, with the help of a loving support group, the addict can make it through to recovery.