What Families Should Expect from a Recovering Addict

What Families Should Expect from a Recovering Addict

A person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol that finishes treatment has achieved a great success.

Sobriety does not just begin or end with treatment, it is an ongoing, ever changing process. Learn more about recovery and what to expect from a friend or loved one recovering from addiction.


What to Expect

Getting clean and sober is the first step of recovery. Inpatient rehab begins with a person who has addiction thinking clearly and dealing with they drug or alcohol use began in the first place. Emotions may be rawest at this point and the individual with addiction may not be able to handle much at first. Supporting a person with addiction to open up and deal with the underlying causes of addiction is the main focus of recovery.


What’s Required

A person with addiction must be in focused on recovery daily. Whichever program is chosen, the individual should:

  • Attend support groups
  • Attend individual or group counseling
  • Follow a recovery protocol or relapse prevention plan


When a person wants to be sober and live a clean life, it is based on observable behaviors. Honesty will become a number one priority for this individual and sincerity will become commonplace.


Increased Trust

Over time, family and friends can expect to have old fears emerge about the person with addiction’s trustworthiness. Trust must be regained. Family and friends must trust personal instincts and know when to believe the person or when a true violation of trust has occurred.


Dry Drunk

When a person is clean and sober but the attitude remains the same, this is referred to as a ‘dry drunk’ in an alcoholic. A person can abstain from using drugs but behavior does not change. The issue may be that the person with addiction is angry and is not able to cope. It might be a lack of coping skills which led to drug use in the first place. Perhaps underlying anger issues are popping up. Therapeutic intervention can help an individual struggling in this way. Boundaries are also helpful and let the person know it is not ok to treat others this way. Setting clear expectations will help stop repetition of the old behaviors.


Other Concerns

A person with addiction may relapse. This is a very real fear for loved ones. A high percentage of drug users relapse and it is commonplace. If a loved one relapses, it is not necessary to shut the person out of everyone’s lives. Life without drugs may be too much to handle. Relapse recovery can mean a person will return to recovery or need more help to get there. If an individual is struggling, it may become more consistent than just once. Chronic relapsers stop behaviors which keep the person sober (meetings, recovery programs) and returns to full blown addiction. Stay strong and recognize the person is not ready for recovery.


It can be difficult to trust the recovery process, but it is one that lasts a lifetime. If you or other family members need support in helping a loved one with addiction, the Villa has resources and tools to help you.