What a Family Can Expect for a Loved One in Recovery

What a Family Can Expect for a Loved One in Recovery

When a person with addiction finishes treatment, recovery begins. The hard part is not necessarily over as the real work of sober living begins. Learn what to expect for a loved one in recovery and how best to support that individual through the transition.

What to Expect

Sobriety is the first big step in recovery. The person with addiction will begin to think more clearly about the reasons behind drug or alcohol use in treatment. Once treatment ends, the person will be faced with raw emotions and situations that bring up feelings of vulnerability, shame, fear and other challenging experiences which lend to the person’s healing journey in recovery.

Bare Minimum

A person in recovery should take an active role on a daily basis, being focused primarily on sobriety whenever possible throughout the day, including:

Attendance in support groups

Attendance in therapeutic situations (individual and group)

Following a relapse prevention or sober living aftercare plan

For a minimum of one year, the individual should follow this protocol. Otherwise, the ramifications are to fall back into old patterns and habits which may lead to triggers, relapse and a leap back into the cycle of addiction.

Building Trust

Family members can expect old fears to come creeping back in about a person in recovery. Over time, the trust will be regained but it will be slow and take time. It is normal to fear a person with addiction will lapse back into old habits. The instincts which kicked in automatically will take time to dissipate along with fear for the safety of a loved one who is in recovery and working hard to stay sober.

Dry Drunk

When a person with addiction is sober but the attitude remains the same may be considered a dry drunk. Just because a person abstains from drinking does not mean the person does not still behave like an alcoholic. The behavior and actions take time to change to the new life circumstances. When the person is able to develop better coping mechanisms for volatile emotions, the individual will start to process more and feel better as opposed to taking it out on others.


It is possible the individual may experience a one-time or chronic relapse situation. When a loved one relapses, it is best to offer a way back to recovery. Most people revert to old patterns which worked and the individual did not feel hopeless. Recovering from relapse may mean getting up to return to recovery slowly but with the right support it is possible.

Deal with Facts

The best way to approach a loved one in recovery is with love and mutual respect. It also helps to deal with just the facts and nothing else. Focus on what is true and relevant in that moment rather than going off the past behavior and words. Recovery is a process which takes time and, with the right support, can be a wonderful experience in spite of the ups and downs.

If a loved one is struggling with addiction, call us. Let us help guide you towards the best options for recovery which support sober living.


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