As we celebrate National Recovery Month, it’s the perfect opportunity to recognize the strength and courage of those in recovery and examine what it takes to maintain sobriety each day. Many who are in recovery often hear adulation and platitudes from their friends and loved ones. While these may be genuine gestures of respect, appreciation and pride, they can be dampened by an acute lack of internal understanding of our daily struggles. Support of loved ones is critical in our ongoing recovery, however this support is all the more powerful when it comes from a place of understanding and empathy. This is why the relationships we develop in recovery can be so powerful.
To those who living with a loved one in addiction recovery, it’s important to realize that they were able to overcome dramatic and damaging changes in their brain’s chemistry and find their way back to lucidity and positive mental health. People often talk about the “throes of addiction” but fail to comprehend the gravity of that phrase. Addiction dictates our behavior, our health and the way we treat ourselves and the people we love. Even after we’re able to overcome our active substance abuse, there are daily challenges we must face, including managing our withdrawal symptoms, rebuilding our lives and trying to deal with constant stigma that translates to real-life problems.
For someone struggling with addiction, having someone around who genuinely understands what they are going through each day can make all the difference. Loved ones can provide this critical sense of understanding by learning about the disease of addiction and what, if any, role they can play in their loved one’s continued sobriety. It’s downright surprising how much positive change a little bit empathy can elicit. It just may mean the difference between continued success and relapse.