Watching a loved one struggle with substance use disorder (SUD) can leave you feeling helpless and uncertain about how to help. Some people benefit from taking time away from loved ones during detox and early treatment. The extra space allows them to focus entirely on their own health and well-being. However, you can still help support your loved one while giving them that space. According to the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), “Learning about addiction, treatment, and recovery can help you relate to and support your loved ones on their path to recovery.” Newport Beach Recovery Center offers high-quality treatment programs to help individuals and families heal from the effects of SUD.
How to Respect a Loved One’s Need for Space During Treatment
Individuals participating in detox, residential (RTC), intensive outpatient (IOP), or partial hospitalization (PHP) programs might need space and time to heal. In some cases, you may need to stop communication with your loved one for a short period. If someone you care about has participated in treatment for SUD, it might feel scary to suddenly have little or no contact with that person.
Usually, when someone cuts off communication with loved ones during treatment, the client does it to ensure they have the following:
- Enough energy to establish new routines and learn essential coping skills
- Targeted focus on maintaining self-awareness and making steady progress
- Fewer distractions and concerns that may increase stress and worsen symptoms of withdrawal or co-occurring mental health disorders
- An opportunity to improve communication and social skills
Close family and friends can interfere with a person’s treatment if they insist on maintaining frequent contact during early recovery. Instead, it would be best if you allowed the person in recovery to focus all their energy and attention on improving their mental well-being. The wait can feel distressing at times. However, in the end, waiting for your loved one to reach out to you when they feel emotionally and physically stable will help them heal faster.
Be Patient and Give Them Space
Patience is essential when someone you care about enters treatment for SUD. You may feel anxious and want to play a more significant role in helping them. It can be hard to distance yourself. You want to assist them in avoiding relapse and building healthier routines. However, the motivation to follow through with necessary lifestyle changes must come from within. You cannot do rehabilitation for your loved one. Stepping aside and patiently waiting for them to do the hard work often ensures the best possible outcome.
Encourage, Uplift, and Empower While Respecting Their Space
Respecting your loved one’s request for space does not have to stop you from continuing to support them. After they complete the program, you may be an essential member of their support system. However, it would be best if you waited for them to feel comfortable accepting help outside their care team. The long wait might feel difficult if you have never gone long periods without contacting your loved one. This process can also help break down any sense of codependency that may exist.
Family and close friends play an essential role in recovery after treatment. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “While there is no one-size-fits-all solution . . . research shows that family support can play a major role in helping a loved one with mental and substance use disorders.” For many people, having time away from loved ones provides essential insights and personal growth.
Educate Your Community and Combat Stigmas About Treatment
Educating others is an excellent way to support your loved one from a distance. Talk to people in your community about the realities of addiction and push back against stereotyping and stigmas. Self-help groups for friends and family members can provide you with local resources and education opportunities. The groups can include Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and SMART Recovery Family and Friends.
You can help others unlearn myths surrounding stigmas related to SUD and recovery. Common myths include the following:
- People only misuse substances to get attention, and they can quit anytime
- Substance misuse is a moral decision
- People who misuse substances are “crazy” and dangerous
- Substance misuse makes someone a bad person
- People cannot recover from substance use disorder, and treatment programs do not work
- Only certain “types of people” misuse substances or experiences addiction
By combatting these myths and stigmas, you can create a more positive community where your loved one can heal without judgment.
You Can Help Motivate Long-Term Recovery
Family and friendship are some of the strongest motivators for individuals in recovery. Many people want to become a better version of themselves to protect, support, or encourage their loved ones. You can give your loved one something to hold onto. Your support can serve as a motivation for establishing and maintaining sobriety. Be present and show an interest in their life, but respect their wishes when they choose to take a temporary break from the relationship.
Withdrawal affects a person’s ability to cope with strong emotions. Interacting with loved ones may help some people feel more balanced, but not everyone feels that way. If you have a loved one in rehabilitation for SUD, you might feel uncertain about how to help them. In treatment, the focus is on the individual receiving treatment. Family involvement is often limited to ensure their safety and comfort. However, you’ll have opportunities to support your loved one. You can give them space to begin healing. Newport Beach Recovery Center offers family support groups to help you cope. You can maintain contact with family if it serves them. We also provide family therapy and support. To find out more, call (888) 850-0363.