The Role of Family in Addiction Treatment
Addiction impacts families. It plays a role in the way families communicate, support each other, and get through the day. As hard and complex as addiction is, it’s critical to understand that, in order for someone with addiction to heal in recovery, they may need family by their side.
One caveat: If you suffered abuse of any type from your family member, whether or not it was addiction-related, you have no obligation to remain in a relationship with that individual. You can walk away, and it’s okay to do that.
For those who are able to support their loved one without compromising their own well-being and safety, it’s important to understand what “family support” means. You cannot cure your loved one’s addiction. You cannot fix them. You can, however, play a role in the process of addiction treatment.
You Can Help Them Get into Treatment
One of the best ways you can help your family member is to encourage them to get into treatment. To do that, consider these tips:
- Tell them that you will be there by their side if they get treatment. Only say this if you mean it and will do so.
- Let them know that change has to happen. You cannot help them any longer until they get treatment.
- Reach out to treatment centers on their behalf to find out where they can go.
You cannot force them into care. Show them the evidence of addiction’s destruction in your life. Use facts and examples. Calmly describe how your life is affected and how addiction is hurting the household and your relationship.
Be a Part of Family Therapy
Many family members engage in family therapy. It is an opportunity to work with a professional therapist and talk about your relationship, the addiction, and how to move forward. This is important for several reasons:
- Work through past pain. Perhaps what’s most important is to express just how much your family member hurt you when they were using substances. Show them the impact it had on you.
- Let them talk about their pain. Be open to listening to what occurred with them. Discuss how this happened. No one is to blame.
- Agree on what’s next. Can you forgive and move on? Can they? Can you develop steps to redevelop trust in your relationship?
Work with the therapist to define what the future looks like for your relationship. Be committed to following through with anything you promise.
Be Their Support Outside of Care
Coming home after inpatient treatment is scary for most people with addiction. It means confronting people, places, and experiences that may have contributed to their addiction. Memories of use come up. Stress may increase. Even more so, they have to reengage with life in a completely different way. You can help.
- Keep the home drug-free. Let home be a safe place for them to be without temptations.
- Sit and talk. Sometimes the best way to reduce stress in daily life is to have consistent, good communication. Make it a point to let them talk about anything without judgment.
- Do fun things. It doesn’t cost anything to go on a walk. Find fun, physical things to do outside of the home. These burn off stress and create opportunities for rebuilding relationships.
- Be their backbone in social situations. These are some of the most difficult situations. Don’t let them face situations like parties or hanging out with friends without the support they need.
- Support them in new efforts. Perhaps they want to get back into playing a sport. Maybe they want to go back to school. Do your best to support healthy, positive goals.
Remember that you do not have to put your life on the backburner during this process. Be sure you are pursuing your own health and goals.
Work to Prevent Relapse
Family members are critical when it comes to preventing relapse. You may be able to pinpoint risks easier than they can.
- Are they talking about using alcohol or drugs as if it was a good thing, such as reliving “the good old days”?
- Do they seem to be struggling with stress or daily life?
- Do you see their moods changing often?
- Did they stop meeting with their therapists?
- Are the people around them making it difficult to avoid using?
When you notice risky behavior or patterns, it may be time to set boundaries. Remind them that returning to treatment is an option, and remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. Victory Addiction Recovery Center in Lafayette, LA, is here to help.
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