How Do I Deal With an Unsupportive Family Member in Recovery?
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When you first return to everyday life after seeking treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD), you may be feeling very hopeful, confident, and excited about things to come. Part of this has to do with leaving an environment where everyone is supportive and has your best interests in mind. 

Ideally, when you return home from treatment, you’ll be surrounded by friends and family members who are not only happy for you but willing to do whatever is necessary to support you. Unfortunately, however, there is always the possibility that you will come across a family member who is not supportive for some reason or another. This can be very disheartening and even threaten your sobriety if you engage with them when they feel this way. It’s crucial to form healthy boundaries with such an individual. 

Why Would Someone Be Unsupportive of My Recovery Journey? 

It can be hard to imagine why someone wouldn’t be supportive of someone they truly care about and who is doing what’s right for themselves by seeking treatment. Sometimes, it can require trying to put yourself in your shoes and consider what they are going through. If someone is unsupportive of your recovery, there is quite a chance that they are also struggling with substance misuse. However, they might not yet be at a place where they are ready to accept that they have a problem or ask for help. When they see that you have made this brave decision to get sober, it can cause them to feel guilty because they are not yet at this point. 

It’s also possible that this individual is used to often engaging in substance misuse alongside you. The thought of no longer having your company or validation can cause them to become bitter toward you. They may try to use specific threats or make certain remarks to try to guilt you into turning back to substance misuse. Indeed, misery enjoys company. 

Such a person may say something to you like: 

  • You never had a problem with addiction.
  • You were always in control of your substance use.
  • It will be okay to drink just this one time.
  • You were a lot more fun when you weren’t sober.
  • Do you remember how much fun we had when we used to party? 
  • Whoever told you that you had a problem with addiction was just being dramatic. 
  • Don’t you miss partying with us? 

How Do I Approach Someone Who Is Unsupportive of My Recovery Journey? 

The first thing you should do when you come across someone unsupportive of your recovery journey is to consider your relationship with them. Is this someone you genuinely care about that you would like to have a relationship with in the future? If not, then maybe this is someone you should choose to distance yourself from in the future. 

However, suppose this individual is someone you genuinely care about and want to have a relationship with in the future. In that case, it is essential to have a serious conversation with them. This is not a casual conversation to be had over the phone or online. Instead, it should be a serious sit-down talk. This process involves being honest with them about how you’re feeling. 

During this talk, discuss with them why you chose to get sober in the first place and express how committed you are to your recovery journey. You may also choose to disclose specific goals that you have for yourself that may only be achieved through your dedication to your sobriety. 

Once you have shared all of your reasoning behind your decision to get sober, this individual should show you respect either by supporting your choice or making a point not to be actively unsupportive. If they are unwilling to do this, then it may be time to consider setting healthy boundaries. 

How Do I Set Boundaries With Someone Who Isn’t Supportive of My Recovery Journey? 

If you have made an active effort to show this individual what your sobriety means to you, yet they still are not supporting you, then it may be time for you to set some healthy boundaries with them. This could include telling them that you’re not going to be around them until they change their behavior and start showing you the respect you deserve. Later, if they see that they were wrong and are willing to change, you can consider letting them back into your life. 

It can be very painful having to separate yourself from someone you love. But at the end of the day, your recovery should be your number one priority. You want to distance yourself from anyone or anything that could possibly jeopardize it. 

When you first leave treatment for a substance use disorder, you’ll likely be feeling excited about your recovery journey. It’s normal to want everyone you love to feel the same way. Unfortunately, it is possible that there will be some people in your life who aren’t supportive of your recovery journey. Reasons for this could include because they also struggle with substance misuse, aren’t ready to quit, or will miss the “good times.” As disheartening as this can be, it may be necessary to distance yourself from this person if they choose not to respect your sobriety. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at The Ho Tai Way wants to help. Call (714) 581-3974 today.