What are the biggest challenges of supporting a loved one recovering from addiction?

Sep 28, 2023

Supporting a loved one who suffers from addiction can be challenging and brings on many emotions. It can be difficult to know what role to play and how to support them on their journey. Read on for valuable advice on supporting a loved one through addiction recovery.
Ali Asgar

Ali Asgar

Blogger at Infoverses.online.

Balancing Support and Boundaries

One of the most challenging aspects of supporting a loved one in addiction recovery is finding the balance between providing support and setting healthy boundaries. It can be emotionally draining and difficult to navigate between being there for them and avoiding enabling behaviors. I have personally experienced this while supporting a close friend during their recovery journey.

Setting clear boundaries helps maintain your own well-being and encourages accountability for the person in recovery. It requires tough love, open communication, and seeking professional guidance when needed. Remember, support doesn’t mean sacrificing your own mental health and happiness.

Unpredictable Progress

One of the most challenging aspects of supporting a loved one who is recovering from addiction is the unpredictability of their progress. You can’t predict when they will have setbacks or how long their recovery journey will take. You also can’t expect them to be 100% motivated and engaged the entire time. They may have days when they struggle to stay on track or feel overwhelmed by cravings or emotions.

As an outsider in this situation, you can only do so much to help them stay on track. It’s hard to watch someone you love struggle and not be able to fix their problems yourself but at the end of the day, this recovery journey is theirs to take and your job is to be supportive and encouraging along the way. You can also help them by providing resources such as therapy, support groups, or rehabilitation programs that may help them on their road to recovery.

Haley Hicks, LCSW

Haley Hicks, LCSW

Vice President of Admissions of Basepoint Academy.
Jenni Busse, MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse, MS, LPCC

Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge.

Fear of Relapse

The biggest challenges someone faces when supporting a loved one recovering from addiction are fear of relapse occurring, re-focusing on taking care of themselves and being able to set healthy boundaries with their loved one. It can be difficult to feel equipped, and people may have put their life on hold in order to take care of their loved one. Taking time to care for your own mental, emotional and physical wellbeing will best equip you to provide healthy support to your loved one recovering.

People may want to help their loved one and care deeply for them, but this can lead to enabling which does not help the recovering person grow in healthy ways. It’s important to communicate clear boundaries, expectations and potential consequences in order to allow your loved one to gain personal responsibility and accountability.

It’s important that a person get professional help if necessary or get assistance from support groups such as Al-Anon, which is designed for loved ones of persons suffering from addiction and helps loved ones better understand addiction and how to best support their recovering loved one.

Fear of relapse is normal, but the responsibility of working a program and maintaining a healthy recovery is ultimately the responsibility of the recovering person. Loved ones can support by being a listening ear, provide emotional support and encouragement for their loved ones recovery, and encourage their loved one to build additional support through their treatment program, therapist, sponsor or 12-step meetings.

Managing Emotions and Avoiding Codependency

Supporting a loved one recovering from addiction is a demanding journey filled with emotional ups and downs. The challenges include managing emotions, fears of relapse, avoiding codependency, setting boundaries, understanding addiction, dealing with denial, practicing self-care, facing social stigma, accepting lack of control, and handling financial or legal issues.

Despite the difficulties, offering support can be rewarding with patience, understanding, and seeking professional help when needed. It’s essential for supporters to prioritize their well-being while being a source of strength for their loved ones.

Chris Looney

Chris Looney

Chief Executive Office at SporesMD.

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