You Can Learn to Contribute to Your Loved One’s Recovery

by Beverly Buncher
February 24, 2020

How does a family member learn how to contribute to a loved one’s recovery?

For many families, just getting a loved one into treatment feels like more than enough. Once they are in, the family continues as they have, and when the loved one comes home, everyone experiences more of the same.

But with everything we know now about the family’s role, just giving a loved one over to treatment is hardly enough to truly contribute to sustained recovery.

Treatment is only a beginning. With only 19 percent of those with substance use disorder (SUD) ever making it to treatment, a treatment program is useful, but it is not the only way to contribute to helping your loved one.

And what about the family who has tried numerous treatment centers, but their loved one’s addiction appears to be more resilient than their recovery—repeating and growing stronger with each treatment stay?

A family member’s job is twofold:

  1. To get their own life back
  2. To help their loved one get their life back

To do this, focus on your own life. Find things you used to love to do and reintroduce them into your life. Take care of yourself, your hygiene, your schedule, your sleep, and your exercise routine. Let your old belief of “I’m too busy taking care of my loved one” fade to the back and begin to put yourself first. 

Believe it or not, doing so can give you the best chance of helping both yourself and your loved one. When we are so caught up in another person’s life, we can suffocate them with our attention. Plus, when our approach is unhealthy, they will often push us away and not want to hear what we say or do what we want them to do.

Of course, there is no guarantee that what you do will help your loved one get their life back. But there are some things that help more than others, and some of those things do have a good chance of working.

Learn what it means to use leverage (negotiating what your loved one wants in exchange for positive recovery behaviors), and use it wisely and discerningly.

Understand that boundary setting is not about them but about you. It is how you can take care of yourself while also modeling healthy, recovery-oriented behaviors.

Take time for yourself. Make silence a regular part of your daily routine, as you listen for the inner wisdom and guidance that can only come through as you practice mindful contemplation or meditation.

You can contribute to your loved one’s recovery regardless of whether your loved one pursues a clinical or coaching path of their own. Their ultimate result is well beyond you, but your mindset, thoughts, words, and behaviors can make a powerful difference in whether they consider recovery in the first place or are open to staying there once they arrive.

The path of a family member of a person with addiction is neither simple nor easy. But it is one that can be learned, practiced, and mastered, often to great benefit for the family member and even for the struggling loved one.

It is a path of love and connection, one that requires commitment, just as recovery for our loved one does. You can contribute to your loved one’s recovery.

Beverly Buncher, MA, PCC, CBFRLC, CTPC, known as the foremost family recovery life coach in the nation, is the founder and CEO of The Family Recovery Resources LLC and the BALM® (Be A Loving Mirror®) Training Institute for Family Recovery Services and Family Recovery Coach Training. The BALM® program makes the concepts and tools of family recovery accessible to all whose lives are affected by a loved one’s struggles with substance and other use disorders. Her book BALM® The Loving Path to Family Recovery tells her own family recovery story and gives families the skills to keep a loving connection alive while moving forward on their recovery journey. She is also the author of the forthcoming book Transformation: The Family’s Developmental Recovery Journey, numerous blogs and articles, and several workbooks and manuals for students of the BALM® programs.

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Beverly Buncher

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1 Comment

  1. I am interested in becoming a family coach. Tips to get started?? Thank you!!


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