So your loved one finally accepts treatment. A wave of relief washes over the family. There is a glimmer of hope for a future free of the chaos. But the battle isn't over. Treatment is just the beginning. There is no cure for addiction. a good treatment program teaches the addict how to avoid the pitfalls of relapse, but it can not eliminate the cravings to use.

Addiction to drugs or alcohol causes chemical changes in the brain. Because of these changes, the addict will be faced with a battle between their desire to live a clean life, and the brain's signal to seek out and use drugs. As you can imagine, this will not be an easy fight. Our every function relies on the brain. How do you fight the very system that controls your decision-making? This is why recovery can be so challenging for the recovering addict.

The good news is that, with time, the brain can heal. Whether or not it can completely repair itself is still questionable, but the more time that passes, the more healing occurs. So what can you do to help your loved one achieve sustained recovery? Here are some key steps:

1) Get educated. Addiction is a confusing disease. It's difficult to help another person if you don't understand the problem. This includes understanding what your role has been in enabling your loved one. Family recovery groups, such as Al-anon, can be a great resource in teaching you the right and wrong ways to deal with an addict. There are also countless online resources that can teach you about addiction and it's effects on the body and mind.

2) Reach out for help. People who are living with an addict often isolate themselves out of shame or embarrassment. Don't make this mistake. More than ever you need the support of friends and loved ones. It can help to remember that, statistically, one in four people are affected by addiction. You are not alone. It's time to shed any shame and allow people back into your life.

3) Allow the recovering addict to work their program. It's actually quite common for family members to grow jealous or resentful of their loved one's recovery group or aftercare program. It's understandable really. They finally have their husband, wife, son, or daughter back (clean and sober), but they're spending every evening away from home in the company of their group. Family members must understand that this is a vulnerable time for their loved one, and continuing their aftercare treatment is critical to long-term success.

4) Focus on yourself. This may seem like a selfish statement, but it's one of the most important steps for family members to take. Each person should be working on their own mental and physical health. It can be just as easy to become preoccupied with the recovering addict as it was when he or she was using. Constantly looking for clues of relapse and waiting for your loved one to 'mess up' will only harm their recovery. When each person focuses on their own goals it creates a healthy environment that encourages continued sobriety.

5) Hold realistic expectations. Much like diabetes, addiction is a chronic disease. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, seventy percent of patients relapse after their first time in treatment. It's not an easy fix. Recovery is a process that may include many relapses. This is a hard reality for families to face. This takes us back to step one (get educated). When you understand the battle your loved one is facing, and you're doing your part to create a healthy environment, it improves the odds of success.

Here's a promising statistic: over half of the people who receive treatment eventually achieve sustained recovery. Addiction recovery can be a long and rough road, but it is possible. While you can't take away your loved one's addiction, you can play a role in their recovery.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Espich is the author of the multi-award winning "Soaring Above Co-Addiction: Helping your loved one get clean, while creating the life of your dreams". For additional articles, resources, and inspiration visit her website at Be sure to download the Free guided Meditation on her Homepage!