How many times in our lives have we told someone we care about that we’re “there” for them when they experience times of crisis? Whether they’re struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, have experienced severe trauma or are just going through a particularly difficult time in their lives, we want them to know that they have a solid and reliable support system, no matter what. Indeed, promises of being there have been thrown around so much, they have, for many, just become something they say to make their loved ones and themselves feel better in the short term. The trouble is, “being there” becomes a lot less passive when we’re dealing with a loved one has just completed addiction treatment.
The importance of a proper support system for those first entering recovery cannot be overstated. Relapse rates for drug and alcohol addiction remain incredibly high; some estimates have it as high as 60 percent. It’s hard enough for a person in recovery to stay on track when they have everything working in their favor; some may find it impossible without the proper resources in place. Just as dysfunctional familial and social relationships can cause and sustain substance abuse; healthy dynamics can help sustain sobriety. One study, in particular indicates a clear correlation between family involvement and those who endeavored to overcome alcohol addiction even without clinical treatment.
What, then, does a proper support system look like? Each person’s substance abuse history is unique, and as a result, so will be their treatment plan and support-system requirements; however, some of the universal elements of a proper support system include logistical assistance with carrying out recovery plans (rides to meetings and therapy appointments, drug screenings, etc.); consistent follow-ups to assess progress and vulnerability; understanding the disease of addiction and one’s role in the recovery process, etc. It’s also important that family members and loved ones that comprises a support system be firm in the boundaries and conditions they set at the outset of recovery.
Simply put, “being there”, for a person in recovery often means going above and beyond what that concept usually represents. There will be times when the fabric and strength of the support-system is stretched, sometimes to the breaking point; however, the love and support of family and friends, and all the assistance that comes along with it, can often mean the difference between lasting recovery and a continued cycle of relapse. You don’t have to struggle with addiction alone. Let your support system help you.