Relationships are a beautiful thing when two living beings can coexist and provide happiness to one another. Whether that is a platonic relationship or that with a lover, the idea of two people with completely different genetic make ups and opinions have the ability to care so much for each other is remarkable.
Unfortunately for so many relationships, they too often become dimmed and tarnished by the evil forces of addiction and alcoholism lurking their way into the fabric of that bond. Eventually, something has to change for the addicted one or the previous nature of the relationship will rarely see the light of day.
Crossing fingers that your loved one chooses life over death once things get bad enough, sobriety can finally make its way to the table. There will be some changes to get used to as your newly sober friend will need positive reinforcement and good vibes brought their way. Sobriety isn’t too easy or difficult- it just is what it is. However, having the support of a loved one can make all the difference in the world though.
Be Their Rock
When trying to be “good” to our newly sober friend, mind you they’re not different people all of the sudden, just some of their familiar habits have now changed and all parties involved will have to act accordingly. One of the best things we can do is avoiding putting expectations on your addict or alcoholic such as
- They should’ve done x,y, and z
- Their sober now and should learn to x, y, and z
- Now that they’re sober they should be perfect
- Now that their sober, the addiction is “cured”
It’s not entirely fair for us to expect things to go back to normal when early sobriety can be such a struggle and our newly sober friend doesn’t need that extra weight thrown onto their shoulders.
Our bodies are built to make mistakes and survive from them- but they can go without that unnecessary weight. The main problem with messing up on certain things is that a lot of individuals don’t learn what they actually did wrong. To make a mistake and learn from it is vital to life. Without any of us knowing with certainty why we’re on this planet, to live with regret and too many expectations for our newly sober friend would be uncanny.
Another thing to keep in mind is that chemical dependency is a disease. It is not something that can just be forgotten about, or a Nancy Reagan can be pulled and your loved one can “just say no”. This is an open wound that kind of affects the person for all of their life depending on what they put into their recovery. It never goes away and is cured, but it can be dealt with in a healthy enough manner to where it is put on the back burner and not obsessed about. This takes time and patience for all addicts/alcoholics.
Most addicts/alcoholics are dealing with other psychological issues revolving around or simply involving their abuse. For the record, this applies to any form of addiction whether it be body dysmorphic issues, substance abuse, self-mutilation, gambling, all of the above or anywhere in between. There is a root problem inside the mind of the chemically dependent that subconsciously causes them to act out on their addiction or alcoholism. Remaining patient with your newly sober friend and constantly reminding yourself that they don’t want to be like this can help strengthen this recently re-established relationship.
Once our loved one gets clean, we become so excited from seeing changes in the addict and alcoholic that we forget this is kind of like a rebirthing process. We start thinking about how things are changing and how the future is looking much more optimistic. Then there’s that cloud in the distance that looks like it could ruin everything good accumulating over the hill. Such is how future tripping works for anybody. There will always be rational thoughts and irrational fears. As your newly sober friend begins to come around, try not to overburden them.
It is important for them to ease into things and to drop the things that threaten their sobriety in any form or fashion. They will need to move slowly and not stress too far down the road as they take on a general “day by day” mentality. It can be frustrating at times, but that’s how early recovery will have to work for your newly sober friend.
It is important throughout all of this to respect any addict or alcoholic’s boundaries in regards to their sobriety. In some cases, we start treating the addict or alcoholic differently as if the whole relationship is contingent upon their sobriety- but this isn’t the case. Once again, addicts/alcoholics are normal people who shouldn’t be tip toed around on eggshells for by any means.
There may be things they need to do or avoid in their lives and in order to be good to them, we must respect certain wishes- within reason. Your newly sober friend will need to be listened to and not to be made uncomfortable. Sure there is a thin line, but that’s part of the process of understanding and loving somebody.
Their Biggest Cheerleader
At the end of the day, the biggest thing you can do for your newly sober friend is show love and support in all forms of acceptance. When we place expectations and unneeded stress on our loved ones battling addiction/alcoholism, we are also setting ourselves up for disappointment. Hope is a wonderful thing to have and clutch onto it in the most treacherous of situations, but it isn’t an end all to the disease of addiction and alcoholism.
With this lifelong disease that your newly sober friend will be facing, they’re going to need back up. There will be times they fall that they may need words of encouragement to pick them back up. Of course, addiction falls on the hands of the addict and nobody else, but being good to your newly sober friend can be the extra “I think I can, I think I can” they need to face their demons every day.
Can’t Expect Anything?
A vast majority of the time, some addicts, and alcoholics are just so far wrapped up in their diseases that they can’t even meet their basic needs. Lives become completely unmanageable and powerless while half the time we’re left to deal with the brunt of it. Patience is a virtue. If your loved one is struggling with chemical dependency and is ready for help, please call 1-800-481-8457 or visit oarcstaging.wpengine.com. Our specialists are standing by- ready to give you any suggestions possible and set you or your loved one on a path that we can all be proud of.
One response to “5 Ways to be a Good Friend to Your Newly Sober Loved One”
6 years ago
As the parent of an adult alcoholic, how can we hold them accountable and still be supportive? It’s so difficult when behaviours happen time after time.