Getting Support When a Loved One Has a Substance Use Disorder

By: Rachelle Soller

Recovery from alcohol use is the most difficult, joyous thing I’ve ever done, and I never could have done it without my family and community holding me up. But sometimes I can forget to acknowledge how hard my alcohol use, and even my recovery, has been on the people who love me.

Loving someone with a substance use disorder (SUD) is not easy, and it’s good to set boundaries to protect your own heart and mental health. While you can offer love and support, the person with the SUD is the only person who can decide whether they are ready for recovery.

The most important thing I learned when I decided to quit drinking is that you don’t have to do the hard stuff alone. Learning that it’s okay to ask for help and strengthening my recovery community changed every aspect of my life in surprising and wonderful ways. If you love someone with an SUD, I want you to know that you deserve a caring and supportive community around you, too.

While your organic support network is invaluable, joining a mutual-aid group can provide insight and comfort that you can’t find anywhere else. Al-Anon, SMART Recovery Family & Friends, and NAMI Metro Suburban all offer free, welcoming meetings for people who know the heartbreak and frustration of loving someone with an SUD. When you’re struggling, it can be so powerful to just sit in a room, surrounded by people who know what you’re going through.

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