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How to Be a Sober Ally

Watching a friend or loved one struggle with substance abuse and addiction is painful. You may feel helpless and wonder how you can be supportive to the person in a genuinely helpful manner. Sober friends and family are crucial in helping people maintain recovery, so learning to be a sober ally is the best way to provide support.

Supporting a Recovering Addict

If you haven’t experienced addiction yourself, you may be at a loss as to how you can support your recovering loved one. Being supportive isn’t necessarily a laundry list of activities. It’s just as much about putting yourself in the right frame of mind. Here are three tips to consider as you learn how to become a sober ally.

1. Educate Yourself

You can’t provide meaningful support unless you have some idea of what your loved one or friend is going through. Find out more about addiction as a whole as well as the specific substance the person has struggled with.

2. Be an Active Listener

A significant part of being a sober ally is providing an attentive ear when the person needs to talk or process their feelings. Pay attention to behavior and body language, and ask questions when appropriate to help the person feel heard when they’re speaking to you.

3. Avoid Enabling

The line between support and enabling is often a thin one that’s hard to identify. It’s okay to do things like giving your friend or loved one rides to therapy, but it’s not okay to make excuses on their behalf, give them money or do anything that else that may facilitate relapse.

How to Love Someone With Addiction

When people we love are wrestling with addiction, they do things that hurt and confuse us. You must maintain a healthy degree of separation from the situation if you want the relationship to be sustainable. There are several things you can do to maintain your relationship with them as they go through the process of recovery, including:

  • Practicing consistent self-care
  • Accepting that you can’t change the person
  • Accepting that you are not responsible for their actions
  • Developing your own support network
  • Encouraging and modeling healthy behaviors
  • Attending individual therapy

Maintaining healthy boundaries is one of the most important ways to save your relationship with a person in recovery. Take the time to think about what you are and are not willing to do to support the person. Are you willing to take phone calls at all hours of the night, or do you need to set hours for when you’re available? Answering questions like these helps clarify the support the person can expect and saves you from becoming too heavily involved for your own well-being.

Learn More About Sober Support From Gateway

Addiction is a complex topic, and learning more about it is the first step to supporting a recovering addict. To learn more about addiction and its effects, visit our FAQs or call 877.379.8031 to learn more about treatment and recovery.

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