Up to 21 million Americans are struggling with at least one addiction. Unfortunately, only 10% of them are receiving treatment. The good thing is, many are willing to embrace substance abuse recovery, but it’s not easy. It takes immense willpower to begin the road to recovery. In families where a member is battling addiction, it is vital to develop coping mechanisms to aid them on the road to recovery.
It is easy to always focus on the negative things they do, which can lead to blaming, regret and other troubling actions. Such scenarios almost always escalate negatively. Instead, concentrating on what they are doing right and celebrating such actions is a much more effective approach. With the right treatment and proper positive reinforcement, recovery is never out of reach.
Here are four tips for using positive reinforcement effectively in substance abuse recovery.
Acknowledge the Small Steps
The road to recovery from substance abuse is not easy for anyone. Acknowledging every small positive step towards healthier living is vital when assisting a loved one who is navigating this journey. Reinforcing these small behavioral changes with tangible gifts or kind comments will boost their morale to do better.
Whether it’s your child or your significant other, acknowledging small steps is helpful at any age. This method can be especially effective when combined with regular couples rehab sessions, even if just one of the partners is battling substance abuse. Always ensure the reward comes after the said step is taken and not based on a promise to do it.
Avoid Giving Unintended Rewards
While positive affirmations and rewards are beneficial, you may sometimes unintentionally reward the behavior you didn’t want to encourage. There are numerous reasons why this may occur. The main reason why people may unintentionally reward bad behavior is to ease tensions in the household and avoid unnecessary conflict.
While this is a valid intention, it may encourage the affected party to continue on the wrong path due to the lack of consequences. Despite the challenges that come with it, it’s crucial to allow the affected party to face the repercussions of their own actions. The natural effects of their deeds can be a powerful influence on their future actions.
Teach Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress
A major trigger for drug and substance use is excessive stress. The affected parties depend on drugs for relief, which leads to addiction. While recovering, such feelings of anxiety can resurface when sobriety kicks in. Providing avenues for healthy stress relief helps the affected party cope with stress without relapsing back to drug use.
There are many healthy ways to deal with anxiety. Some relaxation exercises such as yoga or a calm walk around the block can alleviate any stressful emotions. Engaging in fun activities like group morning runs or simply playing with a pet can also reduce anxiety. Reinforcing such positive coping methods will give the person dealing with their addiction the confidence they need to reduce their dependence on drugs or alcohol.
Keep Triggers Away
The road to recovery doesn’t end at detoxification and sobriety. Keeping addicts away from situations or people that trigger past drug or alcohol use is essential to help avoid relapse. The brain takes a long time to adjust to changes made in recovery. During this time, drug cravings can intensify, so providing the right incentives to keep going in the right direction can help immensely.
Encourage your loved one to stay away from enablers and other people who encourage substance abuse. It may also be helpful to avoid night clubs and other places where drugs and alcohol are widely available. Giving positive remarks or rewards when the person you are supporting tries to avoid such situations is vital in encouraging them to stay on course.
Take the First Step Toward Sobriety
Recognizing that you or a loved one has a problem with addiction and deciding to change is the first step to recovery. It is equally the hardest step to take. The recovery process becomes easier with support from friends and family and proper treatment. Committing to sobriety isn’t easy, but is worth the effort.