Recovery for the Whole Family
In this post we’ll talk about how to involve the family in the treatment and recovery process.
Including Family in Substance Use Disorder Treatment
The impacts of a substance use disorder extend far beyond the individual struggling with addiction, affecting friends and families, damaging trust and destroying channels of communication.
It’s also true that recovery is most successful with the participation of family and friends. People in recovery benefit greatly from the support of loved ones and have higher rates of long-term recovery.
It could be said, then, that recovery sticks best when it’s a family affair.
It’s difficult for some families to know how best to support their loved ones, though. In this post, we’ll provide a high-level overview of healthy ways for families to reinforce the long-term sobriety of a family member struggling with addiction.
How to involve the family in the treatment and recovery process
Families can inadvertently play a less constructive role in the recovery process. Occasionally, even the most well-meaning gesture from friends and family seeking to offer support ends up backfiring.
Families involved in treatment should avoid playing the role of the savior or hero (there’s no such thing). They should be mindful of inappropriate humor directed at the addict as a coping mechanism. And family members should never resort to scapegoating.
Families should also remember that playing the role of enabler, rescuer, or caregiver is most often counterproductive.
It can take time for trust to be rebuilt between the recovering individual and their family. Once trust and communication are regained, though, there are numerous ways support from friends and family can be beneficial for the addict in treatment.
There’s no quick-fix for a substance use disorder. Nobody comes home from treatment “cured.” Having buy-in from family helps the recovering individual face the daily challenge of long-term recovery.
Family buy-in also helps hold the recovering individual accountable for their actions. Potential relapse would mean more than the individual betraying their own sobriety. Instead, relapse would let down the entire team.
Support, of course, doesn’t mean that there won’t be moments of firmness. At its best, family support will encourage the recovering individual to continue taking positive steps toward sobriety.
Families need support too
The more families are involved in treatment, the more they can engage with and collaborate with clinical staff at a treatment facility.
Many organizations provide support for families during the treatment process, including Al-anon, Alateen, and Narc-anon. Some families attend a support group with their loved one, or even attend support groups specifically for families of addicts.
Involving family in treatment helps begin the healing process because many addicts carry guilt associated with what their addiction has done to their family.
The more the recovering addict can make amends and begin to set things right, the better they feel moving forward in their new life of sobriety.