Addiction is a disease that is commonly misunderstood. Among many commons myths is the belief that:
- Substance abuse is a result of weak willpower
- Detox results in recovery
- Rehab programs don’t work
Not only are these common conceptions about substance use disorders untrue, they are incredibly damaging both to addicts and their support system.
The role families play in recovery is vital, but it is important to remember that not all involvement is constructive.
Families have the ability to hinder their loved one’s recovery as much as they have the power to help. Because of this, it must be the priority of those looking to constructively support a family member struggling with a substance use disorder to understand their individual role in recovery.
Become Educated About Addiction
First and foremost, when supporting a loved one suffering from a substance use disorder, it is the responsibility of family members to fully educate themselves on addiction.
In times of crisis, there is often the temptation to point fingers and place blame. This is extremely counterproductive in the face of substance abuse, and potentially harmful to the addict.
Remember that addiction is not about willpower, it is a result of altered brain chemistry through the use of drugs and alcohol.
Treating the person suffering as if they are being stubborn or lack determination will create a negative environment and set unrealistic expectations.
Once family members have properly educated themselves on the realities of addiction, they have the power to educate others.
It is not uncommon for extended family members, friends, and co-workers to offer their opinions on how to best handle a loved one suffering from a substance use disorder. Unfortunately, many of these opinions are influenced by stigma or myths about addiction.
This is an opportunity to shed light on this misunderstood disease and help shift the conversation surrounding it. Not only will this help you share your personal experience with addiction, it can impact the way addiction is viewed as a whole.
Understand The Family’s Role
Throughout the process of addiction treatment, it is often difficult for family members to come to terms with the roles they may have played that contributed to their loved one’s addiction.
While no one would ever wish a substance use disorder on their child, sibling, or parent, there are recognizable patterns in families where substance abuse occurs.
Constant negativity, inconsistent rule enforcement, unrealistic expectations, and an emotionally suppressed environment are all examples of the different factors that may lead to addiction.
Acknowledging the family dynamics that may contribute to addiction is the first step in breaking negative patterns.
Supportive, healthy relationships are a critical part of overcoming substance abuse, and when you understand where you can improve, you will be able to offer the connection your loved one needs to recover.
Learn more about the family’s role in recovery.
Participate in Family Therapy
Because substance use disorders are a disease often born out of mental and emotional issues, it is important that those suffering seek therapy that is not solely focused on addiction. This will provide them the opportunity to uncover the underlying struggles that contributed to their substance abuse, such as a mental health disorder, familial issues, or trauma.
To better understand your loved one’s addiction and offer support, we strongly encourage attending family therapy.
Family Therapy is the ideal environment to be completely transparent with your loved one about how their addictive behavior has affected you and other members of your family.
Use this as an opportunity to talk openly and honestly. This will set new expectations and boundaries for when your loved one is no longer in treatment.
In return, you must allow your loved one to share their thoughts and feelings. While it may be painful to understand the ways in which your behavior may have contributed to their addiction, your willingness to work through it will not only increase the chance of a successful recovery, it will also strengthen and heal your relationship.
Learn more about our Family Therapy Program at Alo House Recovery Centers.
Supporting a loved one with addiction is challenging. The road to recovery is not straight and often involves many setbacks.
It is highly recommended that those walking alongside a loved one suffering from a substance use disorder have a strong support network.
Remember that it is okay to ask for help. Many of those supporting a loved one seek their own support from a professional who will listen and offer advice.
In addition, there are many groups available to the loved ones of addicts that are designed offer a sense of community.
It is important to make connections with other people who can relate to what you are going through and offer you encouragement. Above all, remember that you are not going through this struggle alone.
What To Do After Treatment
Once your loved one has finished treatment, there are several things you can do to help them stay sober.
- If they will be living in with you, be sure to create a healthy environment for them free of substances and temptation. This may mean refraining from drinking and locking prescriptions drugs away in a safe.
- Encourage healthy hobbies and engage in activities with them to prevent boredom.
- Always offer a listening ear and offer assistance when your loved one is feeling stressed.
- Continue to show your love and acceptance by creating new family memories and solidifying your familial bond.
- If your loved one relapses, remember this is quite common on the road to recovery. Keep a positive attitude and muster up the determination to keep going. Relapse does not mean that treatment failed, it simply means there is still work to be done.
If a family member is struggling with addiction, help is a phone call away. Contact us toll-free or email us confidentially any time of day or night.