Addiction is a family disease that deeply impacts even the strongest of families, but there are ways to help a family member find recovery. Recovery transforms families, providing hope and healing that can repair and strengthen even the most broken of family ties.
Too often, family members live in constant hurt, fear and desperation as they watch a loved one destroy themselves in their disease. Still, there is hope for family members to help a family member find recovery through addiction treatment and healing.
Be proactive in helping your loved one while maintaining the necessary boundaries:
1. Get Educated
Educating yourself on the complex disease of addiction and understanding your role in the treatment program can increase the odds for a successful recovery. When it comes to understanding addiction, many family members still have dangerously misinformed perceptions and fears about loved ones suffering with substance use disorder (SUD). This can intensify all of the toxic emotions and reactions that addiction causes. Family participation and support is essential during a loved one’s treatment and even more important to sustain long-term recovery. Stigma not only puts up barriers for loved ones to be successful in treatment and recovery, it prevents families from healing and from being successful partners in their own recovery. Seek out expert information and construct a list of reliable resources on addiction, treatment and recovery. Dive into public health studies, community awareness coalitions, policy, news coverage, medical research and personal testimonies
2. Offer Support
Rather than harming your own mental health with unyielding stress and anxiety, speak up and seek help. Share your concerns with your loved one. Find a treatment center that would be a good fit for him/her and learn about the process and what to expect. Use the information to help make your case for treatment. Most importantly offer your support to help them during and after treatment. The family member may provide excuses and express denial or anger. Be prepared with specific examples of behavior that has resulted from their substance abuse. These conversations may take place several times until the loved one agrees to seek help. Be patient with your support.
3. Show Compassion
Most importantly, treatment and family support are essential for successful recovery from addiction. Once the disease manifests, powerful negative feelings drive the addiction. These feelings typically include shame, guilt and worthlessness. It is important to understand that when your loved one is living in their addiction, they may have little self-worth. Expressing your love and care for them while also pressing your case for treatment is essential to help a family member find recovery. You do not have to wait for your family member to hit rock bottom. You can intervene now. Either way, they most likely will not seek treatment without your help.
4. Be Engaged
Once your member completes treatment, the recovery process truly begins. Long-term recovery is a lifelong journey for your loved one and the family as a whole. You can help a family member find recovery by remaining energetic in your support of their recovery plans, which should include continuing care, sober living, a 12 Step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous and related recovery activities. Taking an active role in the treatment process and creating a nurturing environment for your loved one when they return home can help speed recovery and reduce the risk of relapse.
5. Practice Self Care
By actively engaging in supportive resources and practicing self-care, you can empower family members to rebuild and renew healthy, loving and supportive relationships. The work loved ones’ put in to achieve and maintain recovery requires hope, support, ongoing engagement and renewal. Family members, for their own well-being, must also be willing to put in the work to help overcome the pain and broken trust that addiction causes. To help ensure the entire family unit receives the care needed to be successful; Valley Hope offers a variety of services for family members at our residential and outpatient treatment facilities.
Even when a loved one finds hope and health, family members can trigger a loved one’s relapse by exhibiting past fears, losing patience with the ongoing treatment, recovery and 12-step process, and even applying an abundance of pressure and suspicion. Moreover, when a loved one is active in their addiction, family members can unknowingly hurt when trying to help a family member find recovery. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) recommends avoiding the following common behaviors that can be counterproductive to a loved one’s successful treatment and recovery:
- Do not lecture, threaten, bribe, preach or moralize.
- Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase feelings of guilt and the compulsion to drink or use other drugs.
- Do not cover up, lie or make excuses for your loved one enables their behavior.
- Don’t assume their responsibilities or protect them from the consequences of their behavior.
- Arguing with the person when they are using alcohol or drugs is not helpful; at that point they can’t have a rational conversation.
- You are not responsible for their behavior, it’s not your fault.
- Don’t try to keep up with them by drinking or using yourself.
At Valley Hope, we have witnessed the devastating impact addiction can take have on families. However, we firmly believe that by embracing patients with compassion, treating them with proven therapies and empowering them with the tools to respect themselves, they can learn to manage their illness and reclaim their lives.
And, our counselors will work with you and your family member on the most appropriate ways to help a family member find recovery. We offer a continuum of care including residential or outpatient treatment, plus special services for family members including counseling, education and group therapy.
If your family member is reluctant to seek treatment, we also offer tours of our facilities that can often help ease much of the anxiety and misperceptions of what entering treatment really looks and feels like. Simply call any of our 16 facilities to schedule a tour.
Remember, a life full of hope and health is possible for you, your family and your loved one. People can and do recover from drug and alcohol addiction with a strong support system, tailored treatment program and smart recovery plan.
Explore Valley Hope Family Care services, or share with those in need of family support and visit the Voices of Hope project at valleyhope.org/recovery/recovery-stories to explore recovery stories, addiction information and treatment resources. Valley Hope’s blog provides extensive resources and information for loved ones, families and the recovery community.
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If you feel like you need help immediately, the Valley Hope team is available 24/7 at (800) 544-5101. If you or a loved one are ready to seek help, take an online assessment and begin your journey to a healthy, happy life in recovery today. Get help. Find hope.