When it comes to addiction and recovery, family plays a central role. Having the support of your loved ones is crucial in helping you recover from substance abuse and other destructive behaviors. Family can help you get through addiction challenges and connect you with the appropriate resources for effective treatment. However, this may not be as straightforward as it sounds. There are various dynamics at play in family relationships that influence how much support someone receives when confronting an addiction problem. The relationship between parents and children can either make or break their ability to recover from addiction. The good news is that recovery is possible no matter what challenges you face. Here’s a look at the role of family in addiction recovery, along with helpful tips on how to improve those relationships so that they better support you in your journey toward sobriety.
What Is The Role Of Family In Addiction Recovery?
Family relationships are crucial to mental health and happiness, yet many people feel that their relationships are less than ideal. Addiction is no different, affecting both the addicted person and their loved ones. When a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the entire family is affected, even the extended family. To evaluate the role of family in addiction recovery, it’s helpful to look at the many ways that family members can either support or hinder their loved one’s ability to get help and get clean.
A recovering addict needs support from those closest to them, but this is easier said than done. Many loved ones struggle with how best to support their partner, child, brother, or whomever without enabling them to continue abusing drugs or alcohol. Here is a brief overview of what family members should know about supporting someone through their journey toward recovery.
Family members can help their addicted loved one in many ways, such as:
- Arranging for treatment
- Acting as a positive influence
- Assisting with enrollment in sober livings
- Being supportive during relapse
- Being a source of hope and inspiration.
Why Is Family Support Important At The Beginning Of Recovery?
A large body of research shows that individuals with strong social support systems are more likely to seek help for their addiction. They are also more likely to stay sober over the long term.
Family members are often the first people to notice when addiction has taken hold. For this reason, loved ones can play a huge role in helping someone get into a sober living home. If a family member is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it can be extremely difficult to recognize that there’s a problem. For example, opiate (such as heroin or prescription painkillers) addiction often begins with a legitimate need for pain management. At first, the person may experience real pain relief. But as time passes, the drugs cause more harm than good, yet it can be difficult to stop taking them. When this happens, a person may start to feel depressed, anxious, or out of control. If a loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol, he or she may also develop other unhealthy habits, such as reckless spending or sexual impropriety. In the beginning stages of recovery, family members can play a pivotal role in recognizing the problem and getting their loved one the help they need.
How Are Family Members Affected By Addiction?
Family members of a loved one struggling with addiction often face a range of feelings, including depression, shame, guilt, helplessness, rage, and resentment. People who love someone who is addicted probably want to help but don’t know how. Family members who are trying to help someone else deal with addiction may face other challenges, such as financial difficulties and disruptions to their daily routine. A spouse or partner of an addict may be stressed out by the constant chaos in the relationship or by financial pressures caused by the addiction.
Family members may even feel like they are losing themselves as they try to take care of the addicted loved one. Some people even end up in vicious cycles during which they actually end up enabling their loved one’s substance abuse habits. When this kind of codependency happens, family members of an addict often feel frustrated, helpless, and resentful toward the person who is harming themselves. They may also feel guilt or shame, believing they are responsible for the situation.
What Are The Challenges Of Receiving Family Support?
Family support can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be a double-edged sword. While loved ones can be a huge help in getting someone into treatment, they can also inadvertently cause problems. Family members may have their own issues that affect the way they handle their loved one’s addiction.
- Psychological issues. Some family members may have psychological issues that affect their ability to relate to and help their loved one. For example, some people who deal with anxiety or other mental health issues may handle stress in ways that lead them to be controlling or overbearing.
- Past experiences with addiction. If a family member has dealt with addiction before, he or she may have learned unhealthy behaviors that are passed down to the next generation. This is quite common, since addiction is a genetic condition that is often passed on through the family.
- Financial issues. Addiction can cause financial hardships for anyone. Sometimes, a family member may be dealing with debt or even bankruptcy caused by their loved one’s addiction.
- Feeling hopeless. Some family members may feel hopeless about the addicted person’s situation.
3 Ways To Improve Relationships With Loved Ones During Recovery
No matter what challenges you face while in recovery, it’s important to do everything you can to maintain good relationships with your loved ones. To improve communication and get the support you need, try these tips:
- Communicate with clarity. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy communication patterns. Feeling like you have to take care of everyone else, you might start saying things like “I can’t do anything right” or “You’re too loud.” These types of aggressive or vague communication patterns can lead to relationship problems. Instead, communicate with clarity. This means expressing your needs and feelings in a positive, constructive, and non-defensive way
- Be mindful of your loved ones’ needs. It can be easy to fall into old patterns, especially if your loved one is in the early stages of recovery. You may feel like you don’t want to talk about addiction, or you might expect others to just understand what you’re going through. But it may not occur to you that others have needs and emotions of their own. Be mindful of your loved ones’ needs, and show them that you care.
- Work on yourself. You can’t rely on others to fix you. You have to work on yourself. This means creating a daily practice of self-care. It’s also important to set boundaries and take care of your responsibilities. These are crucial parts of self-work, and they can help you deal with the challenges of addiction recovery. After all, it’s not just your addicted loved one who needs help – the entire family does. In the end, this is actually going to benefit your addicted loved one too.
Recover from Addiction in a Sober Living Home
A sober living home (SLH) is a type of house for individuals in early recovery. Ultimately, however, the truth is that a sober living house is much more than just a place to live. Sober livings provide a safe, structured environment for people in early recovery to rebuild their lives, develop new skills, and build new relationships. These programs are typically run by a team of trained staff members who are there to support you on your journey toward a sober lifestyle. If you’re interested in living in a sober living home and repairing your life and your family life, reach out to Sober Living East today or find out more about our Mar Vista location here.