Approximately 23 million adults in the United States have suffered from a substance use disorder at some point in their lives. That’s 10% of the country’s population. Given those staggering statistics, there is a good chance that most people know someone who has suffered or currently suffers from addiction. Unfortunately, only 25% of individuals with addiction ever seek help of any kind. Getting outside help is crucial for long term recovery, but getting help from actual friends and family is just as important. If you have a friend who is working to recover from a drug or alcohol addiction in a sober living home, the support you offer your loved one is critical for them.
Help them avoid triggers
One of the most important aspects of sober livings is that they provide safe spaces where drug and alcohol abuse is not allowed. When residents move in, they agree to abstain from all recreational drugs and alcohol. This ensures that residents have a living environment that is removed from triggers.
Friends of sober living home residents may have some adjusting to do. Not all friends are problematic drinking buddies, but it is common for friends to want to crack open a beer when they’re hanging out. Old habits die hard. Once your friend has a solid foundation of sober tools under their belt, it will eventually be okay to drink in their company. However, during early recovery it is generally best to abstain from alcohol or drug use of any kind around them. Your job isn’t to test them — it’s to help them make safe choices.
Do not try to control their recovery
When people admit to having a drug or alcohol problem, the addicted person is often the last to recognize the issue. In most cases, friends and family members have been aware for a long time that their substance abuse is unhealthy. For this reason, it can be tempting for friends to manage their loved one’s recovery process. Watching someone try to get sober — or watching them make foolish decisions that impede their recovery — can be frustrating. Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize that you’re a friend, not an addiction expert. Sober living home residents get plenty of support in their recovery house, and when they reach out to friends they’re generally looking for someone to laugh and bond with, not someone who will boss them around.
Learn about the recovery process
For friends of sober living home residents, it is crucial to come to a better understanding of the physical, behavioral, and emotional aspects of the recovery process. This can help loved ones provide a more supportive environment and a helping hand. Friends and family members should recognize that even though their loved one is sober currently, that does not mean they are “cured.” Recovering from a substance addiction is a daily process, and healing a damaged brain takes time. Substance use disorders are chronic conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure, with no medically recognized cure. Understand that the lifestyle changes your friend is making reflect a commitment to an ongoing process of recovery.
Recognize that your friendship may change
Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction means making significant lifestyle changes. Sober living homes provide structure and support for individuals who hope to make these changes. In many cases, this can mean switching careers, going back to college (or delaying going to college). It can also mean changing hobbies — or changing friend groups entirely. For friends of people in recovery, it is normal to feel startled or even disappointed by these changes, especially when they affect you directly. Your friend may want to engage in different activities with you. They may, for a period of time, want to limit the time they spend with you while they focus on recovery. If you want to preserve your friendship, it is wise to be flexible and supportive. Your friendship may change, but if you’re there for your loved one in recovery, it will likely change for the better.
Encourage them to participate in recovery
As we said before, it’s never a good idea to micromanage your friend’s recovery. Nonetheless, being positive about their recovery pursuits is never a bad idea. It is common, after all, for people in early recovery to experience occasional doubts about what they’re doing. They may ask themselves: “Will this even work? Will I relapse again?” Offer a message of hope, and let them know you believe in them. When the symptoms of addiction improve, many people suddenly believe they’re cured and stop participating as much in their recovery programs. As a friend, you can remind them of how much they’ve achieved — and how their continued sobriety is contingent on staying the course. Research shows that individuals who have stronger social support in their everyday lives are not only more likely to begin recovery programs like sober livings, but they are more likely to stay committed.
Finding a Sober Living Home
If you are concerned about a friend’s substance abuse habits, encourage them to enroll in a sober living home. Design for Recovery, a structured sober living home for men located in West Los Angeles, offers a safe and supportive environment for men suffering from addictions to all substances. Residents of our sober living facility stay drug and alcohol free, cultivating a trigger-free space. Moreover, they work daily to develop the skills and coping tools they need to avoid relapse in the long term.
At Design for Recovery, we believe that the recovery process goes well beyond simple physical abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Our residents develop connections with each other and in the larger Los Angeles recovery community. These relationships remain essential sources of support years after graduation. Moreover, they take steps to build entirely new lives for themselves, cultivating new values, beginning new careers, and changing their communication habits. Recovery, for the men at our sober living, involves becoming the best possible versions of themselves.
If you or a loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction and is ready to make a change, contact Design for Recovery today.