Supporting those achieving recovery through sober living

Addiction is one of the hardest things a person can go through in their life.

It can also be challenging for friends and family to watch the people they love struggle with addiction.

When it comes to recovery, no one is on the same path, and that’s why building a support system is a big advocate for achieving and maintaining sobriety.

Recovery is a unique learning process for those who are sober and for those supporting their loved one’s sobriety. Go where you feel supported. Stand up for yourself and limit your contact or distance yourself from people who are not supporting you in your recovery.

Boundaries are essential to living sober. You can’t assume everyone will know or support your sobriety, so you must communicate your needs to those who want to be there for you and separate from those who don’t support your recovery.

However, sometimes those in recovery are placed in vulnerable positions by the presence of alcohol or substances. As someone who supports them, it helps to find alternative activities that don’t involve alcohol or other substances. A few examples would be going for a walk in the park, exploring a new area, seeing a really great movie and then talking about it, or trying to pick up a hobby or two that you enjoy.

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A sober life can last. In fact, it takes about three to six months to develop new healthy habits.

Here are some ways you can offer support to someone in recovery:

-Think different. If you know someone is having trouble staying sober, try not to take them to places where alcohol or drugs are tempting. Think of creative and fun ways to spend time with loved ones without anyone drinking. There are many activities and hobbies that can be just as fulfilling without alcohol. Try something creative like cooking dinner, having game nights, or seeing beautiful lights on the holidays.

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-Offer help. Deciding to be sober might be a challenge for some. Try to avoid any language that might embarrass someone in recovery for being sober. Use your words to uplift them and be someone they can talk to throughout the process. Support can be found through sponsors, family, friends, or someone who has also experienced recovery. Those in recovery should feel heard and supported by their chosen support system.

-Respect boundaries. Alcohol or substances can be tempting for those trying to maintain a sober lifestyle. When someone in recovery has made their needs clear to you, try to be very mindful. Try to avoid offering alcohol of any kind or drinking in front of someone in recovery. In the early stages of recovery, people tend to see themselves as selfish. It is truly a selfless act to focus on getting better so that you can be there for other people in the future.

-Supporter Limits. As a recovery companion, set your own boundaries. Establish your role in recovery early on. For example, you might be willing to remove alcohol from the house and listen to the person when they are struggling and you are available. However, you may not be willing to take on a sponsorship role (i.e. being there for them every hour of the day when asked to do so).

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During this journey, the most important part to remember is that no one is alone and support is really what moves people forward.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their recovery, Centerstone can help.

For more information on our addiction and recovery services, call 877-467-3123.

Shane Kuhlman, Centerstone’s Chief Psychology Officer, is a trained integrated clinical and counseling psychologist with clinical and research experience in suicide prevention practices. During National Recovery Month, he wanted to share tips on supporting loved ones through recovery and sober living. Send comments to [email protected]

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