How to Support a Recovering Addict
Dealing with a loved one who has an alcohol, drug, or other type of addiction is one of the hardest things some people may ever have to face in life. It is important to realize that addiction is not something that affects only the addict: it casts a wide net that can also contribute to the destruction of the daily lives of friends, family and coworkers. And just as we were involved in the addiction stages, we should also be involved in the recovery stages.
It is understandable that friends and family would be concerned about how to support a loved one who is going through this ever-challenging process of recovery. But just as God has a plan for your loved one in recovery, He also has a plan for you can help your loved one. In Corinthians 1:3-4, it says God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Thus, it is our responsibility as God’s children to comfort and help our loved ones through recovery.
The More You Know, The More You Can Help a Recovering Addict
There are several things that we should keep in mind to help a recovering addict avoid the temptation of relapse into addiction. The first thing we need to do is to get educated about the recovery process and not to play down the problem. We know that anything is possible through God, and that through faith in God, anyone can be delivered from addiction, but the process does not end with the last drink or pill. Addiction comes with huge physical, psychological, and emotional pulls back into the lifestyle, and even after a long period of recovery, those pulls will still be there. This makes lifelong abstinence essential, for if your loved one gives in to just the slightest pull of temptation into sin, it’s a slippery slope back down to full-blown addiction.
Because these pulls will always be there, one of the best things family and friends can do is participate in abstinence along with the recovering addict. If the problem was drugs, this will likely be easy, but alcohol is something that is abundantly present. Though they might tell you it’s okay to drink in front of them, refraining from waving their past addiction in their face will make things much easier for them. To put into terms that may be easier to understand, anyone who’s ever been on a diet knows it’s harder to stay committed to the diet at a movie theater full of soda and the smell of buttery popcorn than it is in a junk-free home. Regardless of how firm our commitment is, we are by nature weak-willed and sinful. The best thing to do is to avoid creating an atmosphere of temptation for the recovering addict, especially in the early stages.
Above all, always be on the alert for a potential relapse. Without the ability to use the addiction to cope with life, the former addict may not know where else to turn. Always be available and encourage them to join Bible studies or other church groups as another source of support. Many churches have groups specifically for recovering addicts. A strong faith in God is one of the best ways to stay strong in recovery, both for you and your loved one: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God’s forgiveness and the purification from a past of addiction create one of the best paths to recovery.