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The journey of recovery can often last years as many changes need to occur. Addiction not only involves the substance user, but those they know and love. If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who is an addict or recovering addict than you may want to read on to better understand how to offer support and balance. While you want to be supportive of your loved one, you must also take care of yourself. Below are several ways to find that healthy balance.
First, you must set boundaries. These are the ground rules for your relationship and must be clearly defined. These boundaries should include the repercussions of drug use by your partner. If these boundaries are set before a problem occurs then there will be no question as to what to expect. Some good examples of boundaries may be no alcohol or drugs in the home, do not come into the house if under the influence of any substance, or even no alcohol or drug using friends in the home.
As you set boundaries make sure you are practicing good self-care for yourself. Taking care of yourself is important if you are to help others. Stick to your own self-care routine before going out of your way to help others. This will help you remain healthier and build resiliency.
Next, educate yourself on addiction, overdose, and recovery. Knowing what could occur or what to expect is key to being helpful. While each case will be different, the more you know, the better you are able to stay strong and helpful. Along these same lines, get outside input. See a counselor, join a support group, or search for online forums that can offer insight and support as you support your loved one. As you learn more about addiction, remember that your loved one may have a co-occurring disorder. Perhaps depression, anxiety, bipolar, or any number of disorders may be present. Get them talking to you or a professional if possible.
If you are trying to reward your partner for maintaining good behavior, make the rewards as immediate as possible. Short term rewards work best in recovery as the brain has been chemically changed through drug use. This means that rewards should be small but daily or every couple days until a longer time not using has passed. You will have to pick your approach as you know your loved one and may have to adapt as needed. Do your research to know your options and see what will work best in your situation.
Finally, keep yourself safe. Sometimes, regardless of all you do, your partner will continue to use or relapse. Stick to your boundaries and make the hard decision to walk away if needed. You may even need legal help at some point, if so do not be afraid to seek it. You cannot help someone else if you let yourself be used up, so stay safe.
If you are living with someone who is an active user or just starting the recovery process than know you can help and guide, but cannot do this for them. This is a personal decision they must make and commit to in life. Stay strong and take care of yourself first, then and only then can you be a support to your partner.
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