Being in recovery—whether from trauma, addiction, or illness—makes us vulnerable. There’s nothing wrong with that. We have been wounded, we have been mistreated (by self or others) and now it’s time to change that. Recovery is not synonymous with weakness. Yet, it might seem that way considering just how much support we might need. From changing how we react to small upsets to finding the right places to go and get professional help to keeping our families intact… there’s a lot on the list. I’ve talked about needing help before, but what I haven’t talked enough about is making sure that the people who are in your corner are the right people.
The last thing you need while in recovery is someone who is detrimental to your health by not supporting you properly. What I mean is someone who doesn’t have the proper knowledge or is not well-equipped psychologically to be there for you. It’s easy to recognize those kinds of people, but it might be confusing, as some of them are the people closest to us. They might be husbands or wives or children or parents—people who have been affected by what affected us second-hand. And many of them want what’s best for us… except they don’t know how to go about it. But how do you recognize if someone is supportive of your recovery or not?
For one, a supportive person doesn’t nag or threaten or give you ultimatums. They don’t tell you that if you don’t get yourself “fixed” they will leave you or have you leave your home. There are no forced in-patient stays in your history, no police being called on you when not necessary. This person does not make fun of your struggles and they will certainly not keep any drugs around if drugs are your problem. When you start to get better, they are around and they themselves take care of their own recovery.
When we’re in the throes of addiction or behaving in a damaging manner because of trauma, we often hear that we need to stop and to seek help. But how? Easier said than done, and our refusal or inability to do so might be seen as unwillingness to recover. I don’t believe there’s one person in this world suffering from trauma and/ or addiction who doesn’t want to get better, so that assumption is false. This is the first assumption that the loved ones must rid themselves of in order to be helpful.
And this is the crux of the matter: getting rid of assumptions. This means your supports have to learn how to change their reactions (attitudes, and sometimes behavior) in order to affect change in you. Instead of nagging and threatening, they will try to focus on their own needs – but also treat you with compassion and respect. They won’t give into provocations, won’t write pointless letters of interventions, won’t plead and complain. That’s because there is a better way. That way is a strategy that I will write about in upcoming blogs. It’s a method which turns what we know about helping someone with addiction upside-down. It is more effective than Al-Anon or the Johnson method of intervention. It is called CRAFT— Community Reinforcement and Family Training, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it. Stay tuned!
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