During this month of giving and gratitude, one of the many things we are grateful for is the families who support their loved ones who are struggling with addiction. Addiction is a difficult disease, but recovery is easier when you know the people you care about are there for you and pulling for you to overcome. Here are some ways families can help their loved ones in recovery:

Support Their Need for Abstinence

Many addicts, in order to remain sober, must stay completely away from addictive substances. During the holidays, be mindful of their needs and choose to serve non-alcoholic beverages. If you do have alcohol on the premises, don’t pressure them to drink or assume they can have “just one” or have just a sip of champagne for a toast. Sobriety and recovery mean no substances at all.

Be Supportive

Support your family member by encouraging them to fulfill all of their treatment obligations, including counseling, recovery meetings, and keeping in touch with their sponsor. Provide rides to meetings, be there when they need someone to talk to, and love your addicted family member no matter what. Loving and supporting does not equate enabling. If your loved one falls back into old habits (trying to borrow money to buy drugs or alcohol, for example) you can set boundaries that keep you safe and don’t enable them.

Be Honest with Yourself

Don’t minimize the seriousness of your family member’s addiction disease, and don’t think that you can do everything for them. You can only help them when you are in a mentally healthy place yourself. Do what you can, but don’t allow yourself to become the only support system the person in recovery has. It’s ok to say, “I can’t help you today.”

Having a treatment center or an addiction professional family program that understands the dynamics of the family system is important – prior to, during, and after the treatment stay. It is essential to be sure that you ask about a treatment program’s perspective on family involvement in treatment.

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