Using Positive Reinforcement to Help Loved Ones in Recovery

It is sometimes easy to forget the weight our words of encouragement and praise carry and their effect on others. Being intentional about sharing the good you see in your loved one’s progress in recovery can assist them to stay motivated as they encounter the ups and downs along their path of sobriety. Actions such as sharing praise or rewarding someone when they exhibit a healthy change in behavior crucial to their recovery, are examples of positive reinforcement. 


What Positive Reinforcement Looks Like in Recovery


Giving positive reinforcement to a loved one in recovery is essentially acknowledging or rewarding them when they make healthy decisions regarding their recovery. Because the word enabler is such a strong buzzword in the recovery scene, friends and family are often overly cautious when showing their care and support out of fear of enabling their loved one’s addiction. It is essential to realize that rewarding a loved one’s positive behavior can motivate and further the progress of their loved one in recovery instead of hurting them. Examples of communication regarding your pride in the progress your loved one is making in recovery include:


  • “I am so impressed by the way you have been taking care of yourself lately.”
  • “I’ve noticed you have been doing _____, keep it up!”
  • “Thank you for telling me about this instead of letting me worry; it really helps me out.”
  • Writing a card or letter congratulating them for how well they have been doing
  • Giving flowers, chocolate, or another small gift to celebrate their positive actions


Actions to Reward With Positive Reinforcement 


Some examples of behaviors worthy of positive reinforcement are below.


  • Waking up on time to be productive
  • Attending self-help meetings
  • Keeping communication strong with you, including calling if they will be late or if they are feeling out of sorts
  • Practicing a healthy lifestyle
  • Not using drugs or drinking alcohol


Using positive reinforcement to encourage positive behavior in your loved one is a valuable tool to support them in their recovery. Positive reinforcement allows someone to feel rewarded by their healthy change in behavior, serving as an encouragement to continue practicing it. Here, at Avalon Malibu, our team of supportive and experienced professionals will tailor a unique treatment plan specific to your particular needs. For more information on how we may help you or a loved one, please call us at (844) 857-5992.

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