Strategies for Dealing with a Loved One’s Mental Health During Addiction Recovery

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When you have a loved one in addiction recovery, you may worry daily about how to help them get through it. What do they need? How can you be sure they are on the right path forward? Recovery is a tough process, and you can expect your loved one to have a lot of ups and downs through those initial months. As they display anxiety, irritability, or depression, you may grow concerned about their mental health. How can you help them through those tough times?

Start with Some Boundaries

Whether they live with you or not, your loved one needs to know the boundaries that define your relationship with them. That’s especially true if you have children in the home or when there is a history of aggression.

Possible boundaries include not allowing any drug or alcohol use in the home or around you or your family. You might also agree that if your loved one relapses, they will return to treatment immediately. If your loved one is facing increasing symptoms of mental health disorders, such as mood swings, aggression, hate talk, or self-defeating talk, ask them to get back into treatment with their therapist.

Remind Yourself That Addiction Is a Chronic Disease

During drug and alcohol treatment, your loved one will spend numerous hours a day working on getting themselves physically and emotionally free of substances. When they leave treatment, the work is not over. In fact, it’s just begun. That means there will be a lot of learning and growth over the coming months. During that time, your loved one may have moments of anger, frustration, sadness, and despair. They may struggle with the stress of day-to-day life; what may seem simple to you will feel much more complex to them, such as relationships, managing finances, and building confidence in their skills.

Encourage Ongoing Therapy

For many people with mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder, ongoing therapy is a critical component of their long-term recovery. Without a doubt, they will need to talk to a therapist about what they are feeling and experiencing as they reenter the world around them.

In addition to routine therapy visits, be sure your loved one has the support they need. This may include:

  • Ensuring they have access to a mentor or professional when things get tough, and they think they may relapse
  • Communicating openly and without judgment when they need help processing their thoughts and experiences
  • Being willing to go with them to family therapy or couples’ therapy

Comfort and Love, But Don’t Do It All for Them

Reentering the world means relearning how to do everyday things. While it may be easier for you to hand them some money when they don’t go to work, it’s usually better to let them manage their own responsibilities.

That could mean them going back to work or school. It could mean that they share responsibilities around the home. You do not want to go down the path of enabling your loved one, which could lead to abusive behavior and trigger a relapse.

Know what To Expect from Addiction Recovery

Consider talking with your own therapist or with your loved one’s therapist about what to expect from your loved one’s recovery process. For example:

  • Learn how to tell the difference between mood swings and mental health disorders. If your loved one seems depressed, anxious, or struggling with mental health over a long period, they may need professional help.
  • Learn what types of medications your loved one might benefit from and which to avoid. Those with a diagnosis of a mental health disorder may need medication. It can take a long time for those medications to work at their best, and adjustments are often necessary.
  • Learn to accept that recovery is a lifelong process. It will take time, and it requires support.

At the same time, let your loved one take ownership of their recovery. You can’t–and shouldn’t try to–do it for them. There will be times when you need to be able to support yourself and that could mean stepping away for a time or seeking mental health support for yourself.

If you or a loved one needs help working through substance use or addiction recovery challenges, reach out to our facility in Lubbock, TX. Our caring, professional staff will listen to your concerns and work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan.

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