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How to love someone in recovery

Words of affirmation are always valued, especially to someone in recovery.

It takes hard work to maintain relationships through life’s ups and downs no matter what the relationship is—friends, family, or romantic partner. This is especially true for people who want to support a loved one through the recovery journey.

The first step to loving someone in recovery is to learn more about what that person is going through. Community groups such as Al-Anon, Celebrate Recovery, and Parents Anonymous. Rosecrance offers a family program as well as virtual support groups and information about behavioral health and recovery. By seeking information and building a support network, family and friends discover they are not alone in their efforts to relate to their loved ones.

“By seeking information, relationships to the person in treatment or recovery can be based on a clear understanding of what a friend or family member is going through, which is a very powerful brain disorder,” said Rosecrance Family Program Coordinator Peter Mowris. “When they understand the science, they are able to build healthy relationships with their loved one that will be beneficial for the entire family unit.”

In addition, it’s important to be there as an advocate for the loved one. Early in recovery, find ways to help them transition to a new life. This might mean removing alcohol or other substances from the house or altering routines to remove potential temptations that could threaten the loved one’s recovery. Words of affirmation are always valued, especially to someone in recovery. Be on the lookout for ways you can brighten their day with genuine compliments and encouragement. You also can help by finding support groups that could be a resource to the loved one.

Over time, these steps will help your loved one build up strength and positive habits they need to succeed in their journey. Hard work can renew lost trust and the person in recovery may discover, perhaps for the first time, who they truly are. This will transform all their relationships, including yours.

“The rules of addiction are ‘don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel,’ and recovery is the total opposite,” said Rosecrance Jackson Centers Vice President of Clinical Services Brenda Iliff. “The reward can be amazing when people are working healthily together again.”

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