Today, we will be looking at the role of family and friends in supporting addiction recovery.

Addiction not only affects the person struggling with it but also their family and friends. Recovery is generally not a journey that can (or needs) to be taken alone, and the support of loved ones can be crucial to the success of the recovery process.

That support may come in many forms including holding a boundary. For instance, when I was first in rehab, I was only there a few weeks and the programme was starting to get to me, it was beginning to ‘bite’ as they say. However, I wasn’t keen to look at myself just yet and so because I was young I started to compare myself to the others on the programme and I decided that they were worse than me and I concluded there must be more of these sort of people out there and maybe I should give up my place on the programme and make room for another person ‘worse’ than me (I was being very noble in my self-deception!)
My peers on the programme could see I needed to be there, I had been using class A drugs and been in the ‘life’ for several years and their perspective was that they wished they had got help at 23 (the age I was) instead of 33 or 43 or 53, as many of them were. Their advice was to stay and address my issues.

Anyway, around this time I contacted my sister and told her I was going to leave, and I hoped to come home. She was emphatic, she said leave if you want but you can’t come back here. She held the boundary and my desire to leave quickly subsided and I took the advice of my peers and tried to sort myself out by staying and applying the programme on offer to me.

It took me 23 months in total to complete the 11-month programme (I had a relapse after about 10 months and had to restart or leave, I chose to restart and redoubled my efforts).
My family visited me throughout my stay in rehab and once out I made friends that are friends to this day and have supported me and allowed me to flourish and support others with the experience I have gained along the way.

Here are some ways that family and friends can support addiction recovery:
1. Be supportive:
Encourage your loved one to seek help and offer support during the recovery process. Let them know that you believe in them and that you are there to help.
2. Educate yourself:
Learn as much as you can about addiction and recovery. This can help you understand what your loved one is going through and how you can best support them.
3. Communicate openly:
Talk to your loved one about their addiction and recovery. Be open and honest about your concerns and feelings, but also listen to their perspective.
4. Set boundaries:
It’s important to set boundaries and not enable your loved one’s addictive behaviours. This can be difficult, but it’s important for their recovery and for maintaining healthy relationships.
5. Celebrate milestones:
Celebrate your loved one’s progress and milestones, no matter how small they may seem. This can help reinforce their commitment to recovery and provide motivation to keep going.

I am forever grateful to my sisters (I have 2, the other one held a boundary that kept me in the UK and meant rehab became more likely), my wider family, and my friends (particularly the one that suggested rehab, brokered the interview, and took me there in his car) for the support they gave me and continue to give. They are a credit to themselves and an example to me.

…I’ve added a paw print as today’s picture to represent family and friends. The pawprint belongs to Milo, our family pet that passed away just before Christmas last year. Pets are friends and quickly become family too and are an important relationship to those in Recovery, not least because they are always “present” in the mindful sense and offer a non-judgemental positive regard. I wish more treatment facilities welcomed residents and their pets.