Substance Use Disorder is highly complex, and recovery can be one of the greatest challenges that individuals and their families face. Those who are not in recovery or do not necessarily have experience with addiction may struggle to fully understand Substance Use Disorder and how to help someone through it. Family and friends can play an important role in assisting a loved one with addiction begin their journey to recovery. While being a recovery ally may not always be easy, the impact of your support during the process is considerable.
You may be wondering, what is a recovery ally? While there is no clear definition of a recovery ally, the baseline of the interpretation can be described as a relentless supporter and advocate for someone who is in recovery. While support comes in many different forms, here are some ideas on how you can be a recovery ally.
Education: It is important to understand what Substance Use Disorder is and how it ultimately affects the individual. Helping a loved one address the disease can best be confronted when knowing the reality of what they are facing. You can start by learning about addiction, the recovery process, treatment, potential triggers, and post treatment support groups for those in recovery. It is also helpful to read testimonials of those in recovery who share their stories of strength and what helped them the most during their transition. Fully understanding what your loved one is going through can better equip you as you support them through the recovery process.
Listening: If your loved one in recovery is struggling, it’s imperative to provide a safe space for them to open up and talk about what they are experiencing. While their feelings and struggles may not exactly resonate with you, expressing concern and making it known that you are wanting and willing to listen can be what your loved one needs in the moment.
Environment: Creating a healthy and welcoming environment for your loved one in recovery is essential for support. It’s important to create a substance free environment and encourage your loved one to stay away from places and events that might tempt them to relapse.
Advocacy: Stigmatizing language perpetuates negative stereotypes. The words used when speaking about Substance Use Disorder or someone who is in recovery carry great meaning. Choosing to call out stigma and be a voice for recovery advocacy can help break down barriers rooted in judgment about substance use disorder and those who have overcome the disease.
Support Groups: Encourage your loved one to join a group composed of other people in recovery. Joining support groups allows your loved one to connect with others who have had similar experiences. Words of wisdom, encouragement, and recovery stories are shared. It is a place to be heard and receive support from peers.
Patience: Recovery from Substance Use Disorder is a process that will contain both struggles and achievements. It is important to remain nonjudgmental, understanding and be reliable throughout your loved one’s road to recovery. Your support can make all the difference.