Your loved one, wrestling with mental health and substance use disorders, needs your encouragement and your support—in short, your help.
And as you extend your hand, it’s important to make sure you are also conveying your belief in their own abilities.
It’s a fine line to walk: You want to empower your loved ones rather than do the work for them: you want to welcome them when they come to you for support, while still conveying your belief in their ability to go the distance in recovery.
Here are some practical guidelines you can follow:
- Educate yourself about the illness or addiction. Clear away any misconceptions you may have about how the disease functions; these misconceptions will only prevent you from offering meaningful help.
- Set realistic expectations for yourself. Understand that clinical treatment and support groups can help your loved one, but that recovery takes time.
- Get some support for yourself; seek out a caregiver’s support group in your area.
- Involve yourself with your loved one’s treatment team, to the best extent possible; attending some family therapy sessions can be beneficial for everyone.
- Let your loved one control. Voice your concern and your support, but let your loved one make the ultimate decisions about treatment and recovery.
- Set limits on your own time and generosity—especially if your loved one is living in your home with you. Don’t hesitate to put rules in place.
- Understand that sometimes the best way to help your loved one is to let them fail, or deal with the consequences of their decisions.
Your loved ones need you to be an active part of their support system. By learning to follow the guidelines, you will be better able to walk alongside them on their recovery journey in a positive and meaningful way.
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