What Are the Best Ways to Support Someone In Recovery?

It’s a dramatic scene frequently repeated on television and movies — someone gets fed up with their friend or family member’s addiction, drives them to a drug treatment center, and says they’ll be back in a few months. Getting your loved one to a treatment center is only the beginning, though. For treatment to succeed in the long term, you’ll need to have a plan for how to help them when they finish the program.

Know How They Can Find Work

Finding employment after rehab can be incredibly difficult, and this is especially the case if your loved one was arrested or had a lengthy resume gap. In an ideal world, you’d know someone that could arrange a job for them even if it’s just on a temporary basis. If not, learn about job opportunities in areas where your loved one has past experience or skills. While finding a job is mostly their responsibility, you need to know how to push them in the right direction. Boredom and depression are major causes of relapse.

Help Fill Their Social Calendar

Another key to success is making sure their downtime is occupied so they don’t go back to seeing the wrong people or turning to illicit substances as a form of entertainment. Invite them along on family-friendly activities, and try to get them involved in new hobbies that can act as an alternative to going out and drinking or doing drugs. Again, idle time is the devil’s playground.

Watch Your Own Behavior

Many treatment programs ask patients to give up even legal substances such as alcohol or tobacco. Your loved one may say they don’t mind if you have a glass of wine with dinner and they may mean it. However, you’re still creating a source of temptation, and it’s the small lapses in discipline that often lead down the path to relapse.

Know How to Spot Signs of Relapse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says there’s a 40 to 60 percent chance that someone will relapse after treatment. Common warning signs include changes in emotion, canceling social plans, not taking a job seriously, or returning to old habits. If you see these signs, make sure their support system is in place — let them know they can talk to you, suggest making plans for a healthy activity, and remind them that further treatment could help them. You can’t force them to do anything, but a little push is often enough for a person who truly wants to improve their life.


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