Stay-at-home orders across the U.S. have forced those battling sobriety to find different ways to manage their recovery. Often forced to work from home with no in-person 12-step meetings and therapy, alcoholics must find alternative ways to stay sober.
If you live with an alcoholic, you know how hard the road of recovery is for them. Imagine how hard it’s been for you to adapt to a stay-at-home lifestyle. Now, imagine you are doing that while fighting addiction. That’s what your loved one is going through right now.
Let’s discuss some simple and effective ways to support an alcoholic during stay-at-home orders, for as long it may take for things to get back to normal. Your support will mean the world to your loved ones long after COVID-19 is behind us.
How To Support an Alcoholic During Stay-at-Home
1. Learn More
Before you can support anyone, you must learn more about what they’re going through. By researching alcoholism, you’ll have a better understanding of what your family, friend, or loved one is going through. Alcoholics can’t drink in moderation. They can’t stop while you can.
For those who can have one drink, we don’t get why an alcoholic can’t. By reading up on the disorder and what it does to the body and the mind, you’ll be better prepared to talk about it and lend a compassionate ear.
Want to Learn More About Alcoholism?
Here are some resources to learn more before venturing into the rest of the article:
· Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
· National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
· Alcoholics Anonymous
· Mayo Clinic: Alcohol Use Disorder
· Healthline: Alcoholism
· WebMD: Alcohol Use Disorder
· Psychology Today: Alcoholism
2. Don’t Drink Around Them
This may seem like it goes without saying, but alcohol and drug use is up across the country due to COVID-19. With limited access to restaurants, bars, and other social events, people are hitting up liquor stores more often than ever.
If you want to drink, consider doing it elsewhere – never, ever at home around your loved one.
Even drinking when they’re not there can lead to a relapse. They can smell it. They might even see the bottles. Don’t set your loved one up for failure by not being able to go without drinking.
Find different ways to blow steam off or relax after a hard day. They will thank you for this more than you can imagine.
3. Practice What to Say
Now that you know more about alcoholism and what they are going through, begin practicing what you’ll say when you do talk about it. You want to be kind and caring. You want to be a compassionate listener. You want to let them know you’re there for them when they need you to be.
You should use “I” statements instead of generalizations. If you have questions or concerns, ask them. Don’t shy away from what you want to know. Be prepared for tough conversations at times, depending on what’s going on and where your loved one is struggling. This is why practice helps you keep your calm when supporting an alcoholic.
4. Right Place, Right Time
Your loved one is struggling with the isolation and loneliness of stay-at-home orders. They’re not used to being away from work and away from the structure that guides recovery.
Don’t surprise them with a talk about what they’re going through. Ask them when would be a good time to talk. Let them know you support them. Be sure you pick a place and time that offers privacy and quiet.
5. Be Open and Honest
If you notice your loved one struggling, it’s okay to speak up. Don’t accuse, belittle, or speak out in anger. Voice your love and concern; let them open up to you in return in those moments.
Giving them control when they feel they’ve lost it will make them more receptive to talking. They feel they have lost a lot because of stay at home orders – no matter the severity of the order.
By giving them some control over the flow of conversation, you’re giving them the power to accept your honesty a little easier.
6. Give Them Space
You need to hear them when they say they aren’t ready to talk or that they need space. Give them that space at that moment. Let them come to you when they’re ready.
Sometimes recovering from alcoholism requires quiet contemplation and meditation before it can discussed. If your loved one asks for that space, respect it. If anyone else lives in your home, ensuring they respect those boundaries is helpful, too.
7. Build a New Routine
Everyone had to get used to new routines when stay-at-home orders went into place. This includes you. Your loved one is struggling with this new routine as you are. Helping them set up new habits and schedules they can count on during your time together is key to aiding their recovery.
Take the time to learn what they need from a daily schedule at home. Would breakfast or lunch at a certain time help? Do they need a decompress period after “work” is over? Let them know you’ll help them set boundaries and routines you can both stick by to add stability to their new daily life.
Recovering from alcoholism is a life-long journey that happens daily. Stay-at-home orders are one more unexpected event that nobody saw coming. By learning how to support an alcoholic during stay-at-home, you’re showing them the fight is worth it, and that you’ll be by their side no matter what.
Just remember that recovery for many is a lifelong journey and they’ll need your support long after Coronavirus has come and gone. The good news is that the skills you’ve learned here will last a lifetime.
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