How can you go about helping a recovering drug addict to stay clean and sober? What can you do to help insure their sobriety?
The first idea or strategy that I would always push as being the most important thing is to encourage any addict or alcoholic to attend professional treatment services. This is going to be the number one priority in terms of seeing them get some real help. Addicts can hedge quite a bit in terms of what they are actually doing when they say they are going to 12 step meetings, or what they are really getting out of counseling, and so on. Ultimately if they are in an inpatient rehab then you know for at least a brief time that they are actually clean and sober. This is the foundation from which their long term recovery may one day grow. For many people, it starts with rehab.
The second thing that you will want to generally do is to encourage involvement in support systems. For most people this is going to mean 12 step meetings, but it might also mean things like attending an outpatient therapy group, or seeing a counselor on a regular basis. So obviously you want to encourage the recovering addict to take any of this very seriously and try very hard to never miss a single group or appointment. The more “plugged in” to these support systems the person is, the better their chances of staying clean in the long run.
Now if you really want to help an addict to stay clean and sober over the long haul then perhaps the most important thing you can do is to go to an Al-Anon or Naranon meeting yourself. Most people do not understand why doing this would be important to another person’s sobriety but ultimately it may prove to be very important if you have a close relationship with the addict. The reason for this is because at Al-anon you will learn how to stop enabling the person in your life and eventually lead them closer to total and complete surrender.
Many addicts use people in much the same way that they use drugs. Codependency can develop and the relationship can actually be unhealthy and lead to the addict staying stuck in their addiction. This can happen between any two people, not just those who are involved in a romantic relationship. It can be a parent and a child that are codependent.
If the addict in your life continues to relapse over and over again, then what can be done? Is there still hope? There is hope but you have to get to Al-anon so that you make sure you are not part of the problem as well. Then you might think about setting some more serious boundaries and also about pushing the person towards more intensive treatment methods. For example, if they have gone to inpatient rehab in the past and they are still relapsing, you might push them to go to long term rehab instead. Always push for more intense treatment as a better solution.
Of course the bottom line is that the addict is only going to be willing to do so much in terms of their level of surrender. If they have truly hit bottom and they have totally surrendered to their addiction then they will be willing to do just about anything that you suggest, including living in a long term rehab facility. If they are not finished using drugs and alcohol yet then they will probably have a lot of resistance to any ideas you may have about how to get them professional help.