The Family’s Role in Supporting Recovery from Addiction

The Family's Role in Supporting Recovery from Addiction

Watching a loved one struggling with addiction can be incredibly difficult for their family. For the families of some 46% of American adults — with just over a fifth of those people dealing with the combined effects of alcohol and drugs — it’s common to feel frustration and a sense of hopelessness. Substance abuse disorder can bring a family everything from emotional turmoil and financial problems to legal issues and even theft and violence. Fortunately, they can also play a crucial part in the process of recovery. Here, we’ll explore the roles of family members in addiction recovery.

Supportive Environment

Having a domestic environment in which open communication and a supportive atmosphere are norms will increase the chances of success for addiction treatment. A crucial part of a family’s role in recovery is creating a support network that reinforces togetherness and sharing. This kind of supportive environment includes:

  • Stable sleep schedules
  • Consistent surroundings (including furniture and decoration)
  • Regular shared meals
  • Scheduled social activities
  • Encouraging a healthy, active lifestyle (which includes appropriate rest and relaxation)
  • Encouragement and positive reinforcement
  • The ability to speak freely about feelings and struggles

Building this kind of recovery-positive environment doesn’t easily happen on its own. That’s why it’s necessary to seek out education and awareness for your whole family unit.

Education and Awareness

Addiction treatment isn’t just about the addicted individual. An important dimension of it is education for the family, which includes support groups where people can talk about their experiences, learn that their family is not alone in facing these kinds of struggles and share any practical solutions they’ve learned in time.

Education and awareness can also help families prepare for some of the specific challenges they’ll face, such as:

  • Feelings of guilt or shame. The stigma of addiction and feeling the addicted member’s family should have done something to prevent it are common struggles.
  • Falling into maladaptive roles. Especially during the early stages of trying to come to grips with an addiction, family members can end up in one of six common types of roles that can sabotage communication and lead to long-term damage to both individuals and the family unit. For example, a “caretaker” often tries to protect the addicted person from the negative effects of their addiction, even if it means enabling them.
  • Financial stress. The expenses of addiction and addiction treatment can both be costly in the long term. It’s important to recognize that money spent on recovery is well worth it.

As families learn more about addiction recovery and the resources available to them, they can share that knowledge with the addicted family member to facilitate getting access to help.

Open Communication

Successful treatment for a substance use disorder involves open communication between an addict and their therapeutic team and, just as crucially, between the addict and their family. Being able to communicate openly about the disorder with their closest loved ones is one of the best antidotes to feelings of guilt or shame in the addicted party, helping them in turn to face their condition pragmatically.

When lines of communication are kept open, it’s easier for the family to:

  • Know and recognize addiction triggers
  • Be alert for (and intervene in) crisis situations
  • Provide treatment professionals with the most complete information to guide their care plans
  • Advocate for their loved one’s needs and rights when in treatment
  • Help them stick with with any treatment and aftercare plans and be aware of any signs of relapse

In addition to helping your loved one enjoy long-term success in their recovery journey, open communication in the family increases the chances of healing long-term injuries stemming from the stress and emotional fallout of the overall addiction struggle. It also makes it much easier to set the kind of healthy boundaries that are essential to successful recovery.

Healthy Boundaries

The success of a treatment program often depends in part on the setting of healthy boundaries by the addicted person’s loved ones. These boundaries are one of the most important roles of family members in addiction treatment, as they can significantly reduce the chances of relapse and chances of enabling the addiction.

Boundaries are about breaking up the patterns of normalcy and routine that can reinforce addiction, removing opportunities for temptation and ensuring there are consequences for substance use. A family may choose to decline supporting the addict financially other than for addiction treatment, for example. Or they may choose not to allow anyone who’s under the influence at family functions.

Just as importantly, a well-informed and supportive family can help their addicted loved ones set and maintain healthy boundaries of their own. Being able to say “no” to former friends, fellow users, dealers and toxic individuals who aren’t supportive of the recovery journey is one of the most important tools for someone in recovery to avoid relapse. Reinforcement and encouragement from family members can help draw those lines and maintain them.

Professional Assistance

The journey to recovery is a hard one, both for an addicted person and for their family. Addiction treatment with the help of trained professionals has the best chance of delivering positive long-term results. The experienced team at Restore Mental Health offers a range of programs specifically tailored to bring the most advanced techniques available in treating substance use disorders. Combining a variety of therapeutic approaches, medication-assisted treatments, fitness and nutrition programs and neuro rehabilitation services, our compassionate professionals offer hope and healing tailored to every unique case.

If a member of your family is dealing with a substance use disorder, one of the most important steps you can take for them is encouraging them to contact Restore today. They can reach out to us any time, day or night, by phone or get in touch with us online. We’re always standing by to provide help on the road to wellness.