Drug and alcohol addiction is a family affair. It’s not just one person’s struggle. When someone has a drug problem, it affects everyone in the family. It doesn’t matter if you’re the one abusing the drugs and alcohol or if you’re the parent or the sibling. The addiction has had an impact on you. Because addiction is a family problem, recovery has to include the whole family on the journey together, whenever possible, in order to beat the addiction.
Addiction is a Family Matter
The whole family worries when a member is in trouble. While the afflicted person might be absorbed in a downward spiral, the family is consumed with concern for the addicted member’s safety, emotional well-being, mental health, and physical health. Everyone in the extended family worries that the addicted person will drink themselves to death or overdose. They live in fear of a phone call from the police department announcing that the addicted individual has committed a crime to pay for their addiction, been involved in an accident while under the influence, or worse, has been found dead.
Then there are the family fights about interventions, stealing from family members to pay for more drugs, broken promises of getting clean and lies about going to school or finding a job. Family members are on heightened alert for emotional breakdowns and outbursts. They can even turn on one another to blame someone for the problem. There can be accusations of enabling the problem and even being the substance supplier. One person’s addiction can tear the family apart.
The Whole Family Needs Treatment
When the addicted individual is finally able to admit that they have a problem and is willing to commit to getting help, it’s imperative that the whole family seek treatment for the toll that addiction has placed on each individual and on the entire group. A good recovery center offers counseling for everyone so that all members of the family can learn to cope with the stress and learn how to help the addicted family member in a healthy way. This process is especially important for any family members who have enabled the addiction. Counseling can also be of key value to any family members that have an addiction of their own and have not yet come to terms with it.
The role of a good treatment facility center is to help the family find ways to deal with what is really a family disease and encourage all members of the family to partake in treatment for the disease. Seeking treatment as a unit demonstrates to the addicted person that they have support and love from their family, which can go a long way to helping them fully heal. Family treatment gives the addicted person and the family the tools they will need to help with recovery and lifelong changes in behavior. When you (and your family) look for treatment, be certain to look for a recovery facility that is able to treat the family and its dynamics. The treatment center should respect the individuality and culture of the family to make recovery a success for everyone.
Importance of Family Involvement in Recovery Cannot be Underestimated
The first step is admitting that you have a problem. This is a very common expression. However, it doesn’t just apply to the addicted person. If you’re a family member, this phrase should have meaning for you as well. It is normal to try to avoid conflict and stressful situations. Admitting there’s something wrong in the family and that you can’t fix it is hard to do. Perhaps you don’t want to confront an addicted family member because you’re worried about making matters worse. What happens if they can’t stand your nagging and decides to leave home or cut you out of their life? That thought might be too much to bear.
Sometimes it’s easier to reassure yourself that their problem isn’t that bad or tell yourself that at least they are safe at home. Giving them money or buying the alcohol for them might give the rest of the family some peace from their drama. Nevertheless, the addiction is extremely unhealthy. Denying it isn’t helping them, you, or anyone else in your family. If you’re concerned about a violent response when discussing addiction with your loved one, you should seek help from experienced counselors before a confrontation. Specially trained counselors can confirm your suspicions that it is time to intervene and give you professional advice to protect your family as well as the addicted member.
An Intervention Can Start the Recovery Process
When your family decides to confront one member about their addiction, it’s called an intervention. Counselors can advise you on what intervention method that is likely to be the most successful with your family member. Professional advice can help your family to find its footing as it starts a new chapter of healing the entire family. Before embarking on an intervention, your family should research a respected and caring treatment facility. If the addicted person agrees to seek help following the intervention, you can have a place already lined up for them to call immediately and seize the opportunity to go forward with recovery.
Both Inpatient and Outpatient Recovery Programs Have Benefits
When your family has done the intervention, the person with the addiction can choose whether to participate in inpatient or outpatient recovery. The counselor at the recovery center can assist you in making the right choice. Sometimes it is best for the client to check themselves into an inpatient program. This type of program can provide a caring and loving setting away from the outside influences that contributed to the alcohol or drug addiction in the first place.
Benefits of Family Counseling in Addiction Recovery
While you’re in an inpatient treatment program, your family can take advantage of the time to really see and evaluate how your addiction has affected the family structure. They can also examine what role they’ve played in enabling you. No matter how the family has enabled you or contributed to the problem, it’s vital to your success in kicking your old habits that they come to visit often and seek counseling.
This shows the addicted person how committed the family is to helping them get clean and stay clean. Shunning them and avoiding learning new tactics for the family will only increase the possibility of a relapse once they have completed recovery. Alternatively, it is possible that an unsupportive family can be so hurtful to the person getting treatment that they stop treatment altogether and regress to their self-abusive habits. So families, take note: Your support means more than you realize!
Another benefit of an inpatient program is the round-the-clock medical supervision and care. Detox is an important component of getting clean and healing addiction. Trying to beat a long-time addiction can be uncomfortable and have unfortunate side effects, especially if you abruptly quit alcohol and drug use on your own. The medical team knows that detox does not have to be uncomfortable, and can help to make the process as easy as possible. If you try to recover and detox alone at home, surrounded by many of the influences or friends that have contributed to the addiction, your attempts at getting clean can be a recipe for failed recovery.
A medical approach means the expert staff will try to uncover any medical or mental health problems that could be contributing to addiction and treat you with those complications in mind. It’s possible that your family has a genetic tendency toward addiction and a skilled addiction team recognizes the importance of this underlying problem.
Different healing methods might be more beneficial to you than others. At JourneyPure At The River, we use a holistic approach in your recovery. This means we know that you can benefit from individual and group counseling, but there might also be creative outlets that can channel your energies and emotions more effectively than abusing drugs and alcohol. Songwriting, yoga instruction and interacting with horses are just some of the beneficial ways we can help you to establish a spiritual anchor in your new life.
Outpatient Programs Are a Good Fit for Some
If you have an addiction that developed only recently, you might benefit from an outpatient treatment program. This can be especially helpful if:
- You have a job or business that you would lose by taking time off for inpatient recovery.
- You have children to take care of and no one else to fill that role.
- Your family will be very supportive of you and help you stay on the path to healing.
- You don’t want anyone outside of your family and closest friends to know you’re seeking treatment, and your absence would raise suspicion among other people.
Again, your counselor will be able to help you make the right choice. The most crucial factor in choosing an inpatient or outpatient setting is determining which mode is most likely to provide the most successful recovery for you. The role of family support is just as crucial to keeping you on track in either treatment model.
Keep in mind that the detox and beginnings of recovery might seem long when you’re just beginning. But in the end, once you’re clean, you can reap the rewards of better health for the rest of your life and your family can rebuild too. Don’t let the inconvenience of an inpatient program deter you from choosing it if it’s truly the best option for you.
12-Step Programs Can Help You
During recovery, you can benefit greatly from a 12-step program. The 12-step program has specific steps that will help you go through the process better, make amends with your family and with your transgressions. Some 12-step programs offer recovery classes and group support for the family, too. These programs can help the family members to stay on track with being supportive and keeping their own negative behaviors in check to support recovery. The groups emphasize that alcoholism and drug addiction are a disease. Understanding that the addictive individual has a disease and that the family also has a disease makes it easier to treat. Your family can see that it isn’t simply a matter of choice or failed willpower.
Family Complications Can Hinder Recovery
The family ideally needs to come together to support the addicted person. You might not be able to engage every member of your family but you want to have at least one who will be there to support you.
There may be factors that prevent certain members from offering their support.
- Your family doesn’t believe or trust that you’re committed to recovery. If your family has heard from you more than a few times that you want to get clean but you haven’t ever followed through, they might be reluctant to listen to you talking about recovery again. While it might be tempting to think that you don’t need your family and you can do this alone, it would be better to first try to show them that you’re serious this time. Tell them that you realize how you have hurt them. Be specific. If you have already looked into recovery centers or made phone calls to a counselor, share this with them.
- Some family members can’t be supportive because they have an addiction of their own that they’re not ready to face. Listening to you talk about getting clean and healthy can make them feel uncomfortable. In this case, the best thing you can do is go through recovery without their help. You need to take care of yourself. Maybe someday you will be there for them, but right now the focus has to be on you.
- For family members who have never had a problem with addiction or have never even touched alcohol or drugs, your addiction might be a problem that they simply cannot relate to. Their first response might be to judge you. Encourage them to seek counseling for your benefit at your recovery center or to join a support group for families of drug and alcohol addicts.
A good treatment center has interacted and counseled all types of families and the conflicts within them. There isn’t much they haven’t heard before, so there is no need to feel embarrassed about family dynamics or the addiction itself. The counselor will reach out to your family to try to make them part of the process. They’ll try to help them see how integral they can be to your recovery. Leave that responsibility to your recovery team. Get the help that you need and deserve regardless of your family’s support or lack thereof.
Ways to Include Family Members in Addiction Recovery
- Be as encouraging as possible. Be the cheerleader in your addicted family member’s life. Visit often. Send uplifting cards and care packages for the inpatient. This can go a long way to make the addicted family member feel less isolated from the rest of the family.
- If your addicted family member has opted for an outpatient recovery path, be sure that they have a safe place to stay. If they have their own home, and there are negative influences there that have contributed to their addiction, consider allowing them to stay in your home where you can help them to stay focused on recovery.
- You need to stop drinking or using drugs if the addicted person is staying with you or around you. Even if you don’t have a problem, it’s unhelpful to have those substances around them while they’re trying to get better. It won’t hurt you to go without a drink. Keeping substances around can hinder their progress or contribute to a relapse.
- If you have never had a problem with an addiction, it can be hard to understand or respect that a loved one needs help to stop drinking or using drugs. Accept that this is a medical problem that affects them and your entire family. Just as you would support someone who needed another type of medical treatment, you need to encourage the addicted family member to get the help they need. They don’t need lecturing or your anger. Now is the time for compassion.
- Understand that recovery is a long and difficult process. The addicted person who is seeking treatment is to be commended, especially if the addiction has been going on for a long time. Physical changes in the brain and body make it harder to quit the longer the problem has gone on. Now is the time for patience.
Once your loved one has completed recovery, either inpatient or outpatient, it’s critical to maintain ongoing counseling, involvement in a 12-step program and vigilance over drugs and alcohol in the family’s life. Alcohol is often a big part of family celebrations. It’s best to avoid serving alcohol when the newly recovered person is making good progress.
If other family members are using drugs, they should not have them anywhere near the recovering member. They should even lock up prescription drugs to eliminate temptation. A relapse following recovery isn’t unusual. You can reduce the possibility by taking the steps necessary to make it harder to use the addictive substances. When a relapse occurs, the family needs to work together to get back on the right track, and not view the setback as a failure. It’s a bump in the road that all of you can overcome together.
The Right Recovery Center Can Make a Difference for the Entire Family
One of the biggest choices the family can make is the recovery center. The center and its team will play a vital role in the family’s road ahead. JourneyPure At The River is located in beautiful Murfreesboro, TN. The inviting and serene center has everything that a client and their family need during recovery, all in one convenient location. The staff can assist the family with their role in the recovery process and offer counseling as well. JourneyPure At The River is a loving, safe environment where you will find the encouragement you need.
We believe in and employ the Enhanced Medical Model of Treatment. This means we understand that there is an underlying cause behind the addiction and substance abuse. In order to reach the goal of helping you to recover, we examine and treat these underlying causes which can be medical, physical, emotional, genetic or social. We are committed to assisting you heal the whole family and making the broken relationships stronger and healthier.
At JourneyPure At The River, we offer a 12-step program because we are confident that it can contribute to your ongoing recovery. The difference between our program and the more traditional 12-step programs is that we emphasize the spiritual rather than the religious. This means that we can respect and appeal to your spiritual background and individual culture.
We want you to feel loved and cared for at JourneyPure At The River. Please contact us right now to begin your first step in your new life. We want to teach you how to create a new way of living that can bring you and your family joy and love. We are here to help you Get Healthy. Stay Healthy.
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Chris Clancy is the in-house Content Manager for JourneyPure’s Digital Marketing team, where he gets to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and researcher, with strong working knowledge of hospital systems, health insurance, content strategy, and public relations. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.