How Am I Psychologically Damaging My Loved One’s Recovery?

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When your loved one is managing recovery from addiction, you want the best for them. However, sometimes what feels like helping actually makes things more difficult. Some of your actions and behaviors could inadvertently harm your loved one. Therefore, understanding their addiction as a disease and altering your reactions can make all the difference. It also benefits you as you can educate yourself on what your loved one is truly experiencing.

The first step towards correcting your behavior is identifying which actions are damaging to your loved one’s recovery. Let’s take a look at some strategies that might seem like a good idea in theory but might have harmful outcomes.

Choosing Your Loved One’s Path to Recovery

Addiction and recovery is a personal journey that varies based on the individual. When watching a loved one use substances and succumb to addiction, you might think you know what they need to do to get better. For example, you might convince yourself that AA is the answer, so you pressure your loved one to go, only to find that they are not improving. However, their journey to recovery is solely their story to tell, and finding sobriety happens only when your loved one is ready.

Therefore, saying things like “you need” or “I know what to do for you” is demeaning and counterintuitive and can cause your loved one to dive deeper into addiction. While it might be frustrating, the best you can do is support them and offer help when they ask. Pressuring them into something they are not ready for can further isolate your loved ones and perpetuate their addiction needs. Remember, recovery is not a one-size-fits-all.

Diminishing Your Loved One’s Curiosity 

Suppose you continue to push your loved one into doing something they are not comfortable with psychologically. In this case, you make your loved one’s recovery less about seeking possibilities and more about pleasing you. Alternatively, headstrong “my way or the highway” methods create panic, guilt, and shame within your loved one.

Oftentimes, guilt and shame diminish the desire to seek help since the panicked approach to treatment-induced stress and anxiety. Understand, your loved one’s recovery is a deep-seated battle, but it will flourish when they find the treatment or therapy that speaks to them. Therefore, instead of focusing on what you think will work for them, focus on supporting your loved one’s motivation to explore options. Remember, recovery varies based on the individual, therefore your loved one will likely take to various approaches, and these approaches might not align with your approach.

Keeping Your Loved One’s Calendar 

If you persist in doing things your way, you might become paranoid or frustrated when your loved one does not comply. You may think you are protecting their recovery by maintaining their schedule. However, by keeping tabs on them, you are not only creating paranoia within yourself, but you could be pushing your loved one to a place of lies and deception.

For example, you might schedule AA meetings for them even though they prefer SMART recovery. The conflict here becomes a power struggle. Soon, you’ll find yourself in unnecessary strife with your loved one because of your different mindsets. Such behavior conveys a lack of trust in their ability to help themselves. Therefore, when you show a lack of trust in your loved one, it greatly diminishes their self-worth and confidence to lead their recovery with their own sense of independence.

Sharing Your Loved One’s Story Without Consent

Addiction and recovery are deeply personal for each and every individual. Additionally, a major component to recovery is expressing how one feels in a safe and comfortable space. Professional therapists adhere to a code of confidentiality, and you should, too. Sharing your loved one’s journey with others not only diminishes who they are, but it also creates a skewed perspective as your viewpoint of the scenario is not first-hand and lacks context.

Additionally, recovery is about rebuilding trust. Sharing your loved one’s vulnerabilities—and possibly the lowest moments of their lives—with others is an act of betrayal, further perpetuating trust issues. You might think that sharing their journey with others can help with networking and finding resources. However, while your intentions may be pure, being supportive and trustworthy should always come first. If you cannot handle what your loved one is expressing and feel compelled to share it, consider finding professional help for yourself. Seeking therapy can help in managing your emotions as you and your loved one navigate recovery. A therapist can help you find better coping mechanisms.

Helping your loved one through their recovery requires understanding addiction as a disease. It also means supporting your loved one as they make the discoveries to self-growth. At Choice House, we are a male-focused facility that provides family counseling to work with men and their loved ones. Our services help all family members better understand addiction and mental health. Since addiction affects the whole family unit, we aim to restore and strengthen the trust and understanding among family members. We accomplish this by providing a secure and comfortable space where all parties can express their needs freely without judgment. Our additional services speak directly to men’s needs so that they can healthily express their emotions. If you or a loved one are currently struggling with addiction or recovery, the time to get help is now. To find out more, reach out to Choice House today by calling (720) 577-4422