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Loved ones require your help during cocaine addiction treatment

Mark Myers LCSW, CADC Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor Myers Counseling Group

Cocaine addiction has a devastating effect not only on the addict, but all people in his or her life. The toll it takes on loved ones takes time to repair, long after the use has stopped. The recovery from addiction takes effort from both parties to heal the wounds that were inflicted. It is important to understand that once the addict enters into treatment, the journey is only starting.


Do educate yourself on cocaine addiction

Although you may never know what it is like to be an addict, you certainly can educate yourself about cocaine. Slang terms, signs, symptoms, and addictive qualities are areas that would important to know. Gaining a good understanding of the addiction process and how consuming it will prepare you for the work that lies ahead. The more you know the more supportive you can be.

Do involve yourself in your loved ones therapy

Most treatment centers should include family members in the treatment and aftercare process. They understand the importance of family involvement. While in treatment, it is the opportune time to discuss concerns and plans for discharge. Making connections with other people who share your trials and tribulations is invaluable. It is not just the addicts problem, it is everyone who is involved in his or her life.

Do ask questions about the treatment process

There are no bad questions that you should be afraid to ask. Having a significant other in treatment is overwhelming. The road that got the addict there was most likely turbulent. It is common for someone to have different thoughts to sort through. While in treatment, it is important for you to gain an understanding of how recovery works. This is the perfect time to understand what lies ahead, both in treatment and after.

Do get your own support

Cocaine addiction not only affects the addict, but family members as well. Having others to bounce thoughts by, validate your feelings, and just being there is important. Make sure you take the time to recover as well. Family members often hide the addiction from others outside their immediate circle. For loved ones to be able to share their experiences and worries with others who have and are going through what they have, is tremendously helpful.

Do understand that it will take time to adjust and heal

Entering into treatment is a good first step. Understand it will take time to heal. There are certainly going to be some bumps along the way. The repair to the damage caused will take some effort to fix. Families also need to relearn communications that were impacted by use. A good portion of the addict’s life revolved around using, so behaviors and attitudes formed around getting high will have to be changed. These behavior patterns don’t change overnight. Along similar lines, the impact it had on loved ones does not disappear once they enter treatment; the healing is just beginning.


Do not be afraid to question your loved one

Trust is a major component that is impacted by cocaine addiction. The addict manipulated the truth in order to continue to use and avoid pressure to stop using. A major part of the recovery process is for the addict to begin open communication. Taking ownership of past deeds is important. If the addict is committed to recovery, he/she will realize trust has to be earned back. The perfect time to discuss concerns and commitments is when the addict is in treatment. This is a safe environment to begin your work toward helping your loved one in recovery. It is far easier for the treatment staff to facilitate discussions and start the process of open communication, than for you to bring your concerns up at home.

Do not avoid talking to each other about your experiences

Open discussions about the impact of cocaine use is important in the recovery process. It is important for the addict and especially important for the loved one(s). This discussion is not used in a way to get the other party to feel guilty, but to open up dialogue. This allows the addict know more about the impact their use had on the loved one. The addict, by sharing his or her experiences, will allow loved ones insight into the thought process that led to the addiction.

Do not feel responsible for their recovery

Most addicts understand they are responsible for their own use as well as their own recovery. Significant others cannot make someone use or relapse. That is the addicts choice. It is common place for an addict to shift blame or responsibility onto others for their use when they are using. But one person cannot make another person use. What you can focus on is how you choose to address the situation if an addict uses, not on preventing them from using. Their part is to remain abstinent.

Do not over involve yourself in their recovery

It is important to set limits and make those limits clear in the beginning part of treatment. There is a difference between setting limits and being over involved in their therapy. Loved ones often go to great lengths worrying about the addict relapsing. A big part of the loved ones recovery process is letting go of trying to control the addict. Just as you can’t control their using, you can’t control their recovery plan. Allow the treatment specialists to guide you in understanding what your role will be in the recovery process.

Do not fall into previous unhealthy behaviors

Families develop behaviors that had centered around the addicts use. They keep quiet out of fear of upsetting the addict, continually checking up on them, looking around for paraphernalia, making frantic phone calls if they are late, and other dependent type of behaviors. Commonly, loved ones need to work on changing their habits as well, especially in early recovery.

Jumping cartoon

Once an addict decides to enter into treatment, the journey is just starting. Recovery from cocaine is going to take some effort and adjustments. The treatment facility is a wonderful place to start working at it. Experts are there to help you begin your journey and educate you on what to expect down the road. It is important to understand that this process is not going to happen overnight. Just as the addict has to make changes in recovery, so does the loved ones.

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Photo Credits: Cocaine by Flickr: Michelle Garayburu; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Mark Myers LCSW, CADCLicensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor

Mark Myers received his Master of Social Work Degree from Loyola University. He has been practicing in the helping profession for over 20 years. He is an Illinois Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Counselor. ...

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