Ready, Set, Go: Tips to Help Loved Ones with Addiction Create Space for Change

There is an old saying that the body may be willing but the flesh is weak. When it comes to people in recovery from addiction, The mind, body, and spirit can feel weak, disillusioned, frustrated, afraid, and many other emotions in rehab. Detox can be draining, followed by weeks or months of rehab work, and then the period of aftercare to begin integrating all the work into their lives.

Readiness to change and a willing heart and mind are important steps in a forward direction. Loved ones can be part of a healthy solution in supporting a way to navigate the path ahead.

Personal Change Is Hard

Every day a person with addiction wakes up in recovery is one step forward. It does not mean close to an end goal, because there is no end to recovery, only a journey. This may be one of the toughest things to consider when a family looks to support services for mental health issues and addiction. The stages of change can help families look at their loved ones in a new light to understand how change happens and why it does not happen overnight.

It is possible to completely change a person’s life and make it better, but with an understanding of addiction as part of that narrative and relapse can happen anytime. To make personal change, it helps to have family support and some targets to hit along the way.


When a loved one is aware of their addictive behavior and patterns, they may know they have to change but are not sure how to do that. Just the mere thought, or contemplation, of the change, is better than full denial. It means they are thinking through the process at least a little bit. Perhaps they recognize they cannot carry on as they are and the consequences are piling up. If the cost is too steep, they may finally put more than a few thoughts together and realize change is necessary.

This is a good first step. Usually, it is marked by their not deciding to quit altogether but exploring options and being open to hearing what has to happen. Family can take advantage of this open door by listening, being available, and offering options for help as it seems necessary.

Getting Ready

A good sign family members can look for is the idea that addictive behavior is finally catching up to them. The loved one has to realize on their own the consequences are greater than their gains. Once they feel this happens, they start to prepare for what’s next. They may decide to change in this step and want to share the decision with others. For some it may take some time between the earlier stages and this one because contemplating and moving to change are sometimes vastly separate concepts for people with addiction. Coming to terms with change takes time.

Ready to Move

In this stage, a loved one will begin taking proactive steps towards change. They may choose behaviors that help them move forward, with the help of loved ones. It may or may not be likely to expect them to seek help on their own. In this stage, positive behaviors and life skills may be tried and coping strategies may help them figure out the next steps. This is what many family members hope for with loved ones.

To create positive space for change, the family can patiently wait for their loved ones to be ready. Until then, it might feel difficult to embrace the wait. The wait is worth it if a family member just needs more time, even if it is hard to sit by and watch while they wait.


As a loved one with addiction moves through the phases, they may vacillate between one and the other. At one point, they may seem ready for change, at another moment, they may not be ready or willing to change at all. It can seem frustrating for loved ones to sit by, thinking they are just being idle while waiting. However, they are actually doing the only (and best) thing they can do, which offers a supportive hand and listening ear to their loved one. Relapse prevention is usually part of the maintenance journey.

To keep everything moving forward usually takes a team of people in a recovery setting to give them motivation. Family can maintain involvement, encourage, and help sustain their journey with love and support. It is difficult for everyone but the more a family supports them, the better off they are in the long run.

The struggle to get the motivation to change is part of the journey of addiction recovery. Until the person is willing and ready to change, most likely nothing will happen. They may stumble a few times until they figure out what they need to do to effect change in their lives. Loved ones can support from the sidelines and offer as much help as possible. In the end, the decision is up to the person with the addiction and they can learn to thrive if they find the motivation to make positive changes, surrounded by caring family and friends.

Forge is a place to come and recover your life from addiction. We help you reimagine what is possible and create the life you’ve been dreaming of.

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