Addiction Recovery & Family Support
Family support is one of the most important tools a person with an addiction has to help them get sober and remain sober. Yet, as noted by various studies, family therapy isn’t utilized enough and could be a differentiating factor in long-term avoidance of relapse.
If you are using drugs or alcohol, you may have pushed your family away, made bad decisions, or become so frustrated with them that you don’t want them to be a part of your life. In recovery it’s critical to determine how much of this strife comes from family members and how much stems from addiction itself.
Not everyone in a family unit is capable of providing support to a person with addiction. That’s okay. If it is not desirable or healthy to reach out to family members for added help, that’s fine. However, when you have one, two, or even a few family members who can support you, you will find real value in including them in your addiction recovery.
Are Family Members Playing a Role in Addiction?
During active addiction, family members often play one of several roles:
- The Hero: This person is often the one everyone else looks up to and may be the person who has “covered for you” in the past. The “hero” type often doesn’t recognize or will not admit when a family member has a problem that needs professional treatment.
- The Missing Person: This person is unwilling or unable to support a person with addiction because they are unable to offer emotional support. They avoid all conflict and suppress their emotions.
- The Enabler: This person wants to help their addicted loved one, but they do so by being overprotective, supporting them financially, and not requiring accountability. This person often plays the martyr.
If one or more of your family members fall into these categories, they will not be helpful to your addiction recovery. That said, people can change (you did!), and with better communication, education, and self-awareness, your family members may become a wonderful support system. Family therapy is designed to help each family member learn about how they have responded to your addiction and to change their approach to best support you and each other.
What Can Family Therapy Do for You?
Family members who are committed to supporting you through addiction recovery will receive many benefits from family therapy:
Education: Therapy teaches family members what addiction is and how it impacts every person in the family unit. Your family learns that addiction is a disease that makes it very difficult to control one’s behavior during active use. They also learn about the long-term effects of addiction as well as what is necessary for long-term recovery.
Healing: Family therapy helps members work through the problems and challenges each person faces. Addiction creates tensions in the family. It’s not possible to move on in recovery without dealing with those tensions. The goal of therapy isn’t to rehash problems but to find a way to work through them, forgive, and move forward. Therapy can also make it clear when you might need to disengage from certain family members or walk away altogether.
Support: Therapy helps everyone in the family feel supported and to work together to support your recovery. Family members will learn to notice when stress is affecting you. They’ll learn about the triggers that influence your drug and alcohol use. They’ll also learn to recognize when it is time for them to reach out to a mentor or therapist to help you.
What Are the Benefits of Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment?
What can including your family in recovery do to help you in the months and even years to come? Every situation is a bit different, but many people find numerous benefits to having a strong family support system.
- Prevention of relapse. In short, your family can help you avoid using again.
- A drug-free home environment that feels safe and supportive.
- A way to release stress and frustration. Talking to a family member can take the place of turning to drugs and alcohol to feel better.
- A sense of belonging and safety.
- A structured home environment with healthy boundaries between members.
- People to celebrate your sobriety with.