There are many sources of sobriety support available for individuals in recovery, and each of them play an important role. These include support provided by the family, a recovery community, a sponsor, your recovery alumni and a therapist. Family can provide the most meaningful source of recovery support, so let’s explore the importance of family involvement in addiction recovery.
Why is addiction a family disease?
Family members are often surprised to experience the turmoil within the family unit when one of its members has developed a substance use issue. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence states:
“Living with addiction can put family members under unusual stress. Normal routines are constantly being interrupted by unexpected or even frightening kinds of experiences that are part of living with alcohol and drug use.”
Most families attempt to control the effects of their loved one’s substance use, but in doing so may adopt unhealthy coping techniques and behaviors that do more harm than good. Thus, the substance use disorder consumes the entire family, impacting every realm including finances, mental health and physical health.
There may also be a genetic component to substance use disorder. Having a close family member who struggles with addiction is a recognized risk factor for other family members, possibly making them more vulnerable to also developing the disease.
3 ways family involvement can aid recovery
Having the support of close family members can be a game changer in recovery. This presumes that the family has been involved in the treatment process and is educated about the disease of addiction. The family therapy component of treatment provides this information, as well as teaching healthy relating skills and the importance of setting boundaries.
Although it does take time for the family to heal from any fallout from the substance use disorder, with some patience and perseverance, trust will gradually be restored. During the healing process, family involvement can be an important source of strength for the loved one in recovery. Here’s how:
- A safe place for open communication: As family members practice new communication methods, they begin to reap the rewards from keeping the lines of communication open. Their loved one benefits from having a supportive place where they can safely share about their challenges and successes in recovery.
- A source of encouragement: Family provides an essential source of encouragement to a loved one in recovery. Family members show their love and support by helping the loved one maintain a positive attitude, even when they’re faced with occasional setbacks.
- A source of accountability: Early recovery is especially precarious, with a high risk of relapse during the first year following treatment. The individual in recovery becomes accountable not only to themselves but also to their family, and strives to avoid disappointing them.
How family members can protect their own wellbeing
Even though their loved one is in recovery, experiencing ongoing stress is common. Families are encouraged to seek out sources of support, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, clergy or therapy. In addition, family members are advised to remain engaged socially, get enough sleep and to engage in regular exercise in order to maintain optimum wellness.
Family involvement is an important source of support for a loved one in recovery, but for everyone to benefit it is imperative that each family member, as well as the individual in recovery, takes the needed steps to protect their own wellbeing.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.