Supporting Someone in Recovery

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What Is Recovery?

Recovery is traditionally defined according to the Disease Model of addiction, and is taken up by the Twelve Step Fellowships. Abstinence is the goal in this model and recovery is the process of continually moving towards the goal of abstinence, because the disease of addiction has no cure.

Your loved one may have abstinence as a recovery goal – or he may not. This is not for anyone to judge. There are many guys in recovery who define themselves not as Addicts but Ex- or Former-Users. They may or may not find the disease model of addiction holds true for them.

Hi!MyNameIsTina takes a harm reduction model to recovery, which includes but does not insist on abstinence, because we believe that is the most helpful approach for the largest number of guys. Recovery goals are defined by the person in recovery. Recovery can refer to embracing ways of reducing harm associated with Tina. Recovery takes many forms and there is no single way to do it. Having said that, there are some things that many guys in recovery from Tina experience in common. Many don’t even identify with the term recovery so please keep that in mind as well.

Early Recovery

Tina alters brain chemistry and can induce depression, personality changes, mood swings, and anxiety. If your loved one has been using Tina for a while, they may begin to seem different as he learns to relate to himself and others in new and healthier ways. Your loved one may be more sensitive to things that never bothered him before if he was using Tina to cover up painful experiences. Be patient.

In early recovery, guys often sense their friends and family are watching every move, waiting for the first sign of relapse. Try to give your loved one a little room and privacy, (unless he asks for supervision). The person in recovery needs to be in control of his recovery, not you.

Your loved one may feel bored a lot of the time. Guys with problem drug use spend a lot of time wrapped up in using, and coping with boredom by using. It is essential, and maybe the most useful thing you can do, to explore new interests and healthy and enjoyable activities together.

Give positive attention and feedback that affirms his hard work. Recovery usually happens in small steps, and social reinforcement helps. At times your loved one may be so focused on his recovery that he doesn’t have room for anything else. At other times, he may have recovery fatigue and need a break from talking about it. Try not to get excited when he is enthusiastic, or discouraged when he is feeling depressed. Practicing healthy detachment is good for us and for those we are trying to support.

Slips & Relapses

Slips are likely and to expected. Relapsing is returning to uncontrolled substance use. Slips are brief returns to use, from which the person quickly bounces back from. Many guys fall short their recovery goals, use more than their set limit, and slip, or even relapse.

According to the Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) model of addiction (different from the disease model), slips and relapses are learning opportunities rather than failures in recovery. A slip can be made useful by seeing them as providing new information or understanding about trigger situations, or self-defeating thinking that might have led to the relapse, things to keep in mind for next time, and to return to reduced use, or not using.

If the one you care about relapses, it doesn’t mean he’s back to square one or that your efforts and support were a waste of time. He may need a number of tries to really stop for good if that’s his goal – most people with Tina do. Allow for the possibility that he may never stop using.

Sometimes the pressure to succeed in recovery overwhelms guys and prompts a slip or relapse. Such stress can lead to an urge to use and be a vicious cycle. Beating Tina is tough and can take years. Many guys say that overcoming Tina dependence is the hardest thing they’ve ever done. You may have heard that recovery rates for Tina are lower than most other substances.

Instead of negative reinforcement for slipping or relapsing, try positive reinforcement for learning from the last slip, and exploring how to make their next try even 1% better. Encourage him to keep trying and remind him of his past accomplishments.