Crises are an unfortunate part of the addiction recovery process. Being prepared for their possibility is necessary to ensure that each person can maintain their hard-earned sobriety even throughout the most tumultuous times. Having a crisis plan to help a loved one through a crisis is an incredibly important and noble thing. However, knowing how to be prepared can be difficult, and approaching a crisis with an educated plan rather than relying on instinct can make a huge difference in a loved one’s emotional health and continued sobriety.
The Unfortunate Need for a Crisis Plan
Knowing the proper way to help a loved one is essential. Addiction recovery is an emotionally trying time filled with change and transformation, and coping with the effects of withdrawal to the continued effects of exploring a new, sober identity is emotionally taxing. These effects can compound a plethora of external stresses at any time.
Creating a crisis plan is necessary from the beginning of one’s recovery journey out of a center for alcohol and drug treatment. There is no point that it is “too soon” to develop an educated way to help another through an emotional crisis. The earlier an individual’s support system can understand how to best help their loved one, the more readily they can actively benefit those in recovery.
Keep a Running Document of Key Information
Crises have a myriad of different elements, all needing attention. Commonly, a support person may not know all of the intricacies of another’s recovery plights from the beginning of the journey. Keeping a running note of known triggers and stressors, as well as key contact information for professionals, other supports, helpful facilities, or other educated entities, can all be instrumental in the event of a crisis. This kind of knowledge and preparation can ensure that there is always a resource available and a way to prepare oneself better if there are known stressors at a certain function or juncture in one’s recovery.
Crises are incredibly stressful for whoever is experiencing them, and they can cause an individual to act or react to any kind of stimuli in unforeseen ways. Keeping calm is essential; if a support person also becomes overwhelmed with emotional responses, it can compound and further complicate a crisis. Practicing breathing techniques and creating a plan can help keep the support person calm and informed throughout these trying experiences.
Modeling these breathing and grounding exercises can also help those in crisis begin to ground themselves. Having a loved one match one’s breathing pattern or count alongside them can help all parties involved begin to establish a shared sense of reality and non-verbal communication. Keeping a soft tone of voice can also aid in this effective communication.
It is also important to take stock of one’s escape options if needed. Access to transportation or a path away from a stressful environment can all be essential in removing an individual from these dangerous scenarios.
Don’t Act Suddenly
Sudden movement or making decisions without consulting those in crises can lead to many dangers. It can be incredibly easy for those experiencing a crisis to misinterpret any number of stimuli. A support person acting without consulting their loved one can introduce more confusion or stressful assumptions into an already tumultuous atmosphere.
While it may be easy to assume that those suffering from a mental health crisis can’t be trusted to make rational decisions in their own best interests, this is often untrue. Instead, those in crisis need support rather than others to make decisions on their behalf without their consent. Not only can these sudden and unexpected actions create more confusion, but it also compromises one’s agency. Taking time to help calm an individual, ask what specifically a loved one needs, and only acting on these desires can help rebuild a sense of control and trust, creating a healthy space to process one’s emotions.
If one is taking actions as per a pre-determined plan, it is important to inform those in a crisis of one’s intentions, what exactly they will be doing, why to best avoid misinterpretations, and open a dialogue as needed.
Avoid Blame or Taking Things Personally
Those in crisis may act or say things in their emotional turmoil that may be difficult to process. However, crises are an overwhelming experience, and it is important to avoid blaming an individual for their actions or taking any of one’s actions personally. There is rarely any personal malice during a crisis. Instead, those experiencing them are commonly only acting to get the immediate stress, anxiety, fear, or panic to stop and may act in accordance with this notion.
Blaming others for acting irrationally during a crisis not only leads to the deterioration of trust and relationships but is also a highway to further discomfort or stunted progress. Talking about the event afterward can be an important piece of information and perspective. However, it isn’t personal, and avoiding blame can lead to the best communication around the event that allows loved ones and those that support you to continue preparing in case of similar crises in the future.
Helping a loved one through a crisis is a delicate and challenging situation. We at Hawaii Island Recovery are prepared to help you better understand the intricacies of crises while helping you and your loved ones create a plan to address them healthily and productively. Your time with us is personalized based on your unique needs and goals, from helping you cope with urges and cravings to dealing with the stresses, anxieties, and triggers that may be present in your life outside of our Hawaii substance abuse treatment center. Individual and group therapy, yoga, Dharma programs, meditation, and an extensive program of cultural and experiential therapies are all available to help you better understand and overcome the ongoing trials of addiction, all while creating your best path toward a transformed future. For more information on how we can help you or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (866) 390-5070.