Addiction is a family disease. It can damage and destroy even the strongest of families.
Recovery is equally powerful. It 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 their loved ones reclaim their life through treatment and recovery.
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, their self-worth is most likely shattered. Expressing your love and care for them while also pressing your case for treatment is essential. 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.
Stopping the Stigma
An important first step for families involves eliminating the stigma surrounding the perception of addiction. Substance use disorder (SUD) is a chronic brain disease that requires clinical treatment and supportive care, not a moral failing. When it comes to understanding addiction, many family members still have dangerously misinformed perceptions and fears about loved ones suffering with SUD. 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 recovery.
In addition to understanding that addiction is a medical condition, family members require support to help them through their own recovery process. Often, family members find that support with others who have loved ones in treatment and/or recovery groups such as Al-Anon. Others may need a deeper level of support and care to help facilitate long term healing and recovery through programs like Valley Hope’s family programs.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers these suggestions for families ready to begin the recovery journey:
- Joining a local family support group to meet others experiencing similar challenges.
- Participating in family programs in which education and treatment sessions include loved ones.
- Attending individual therapy to learn appropriate coping skills.
- Eating healthy meals and getting adequate sleep.
- Managing stress by engaging in hobbies and getting exercise.
- Sharing stories with the virtual recovery community and reading about others who have similar experiences.
Valley Hope offers a variety of services for individuals, couples and families at our residential and outpatient treatment facilities. Individual, family and small group sessions explore emotional responses to addiction and consider positive ways of managing emotions. Interactive lectures help families understand the disease of addiction and learn behaviors that will support their loved one’s recovery.
Even when a loved one finds hope and health, family members can relapse or 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.
Often, some of the most natural responses and actions family members engage in through their love and compassion actually harm their loved one and enable their addiction. By engaging in a Family Care treatment program, families can learn how to avoid destructive, self-inflicted obstacles, and strengthen their loved one’s recovery.
Once your family 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. Remain energetic in your support of their recovery plans, which can include Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), continuing care, sober living, a 12-Step program such as A.A. 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.
Actively engaging in supportive resources and practicing self-care can empower family members to rebuild and renew healthy, loving and supportive relationships with loved ones in recovery. 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.
Get Help, Find Hope
At Valley Hope, we have witnessed the devastating toll addiction takes on families. However, we firmly believe that by embracing patients and their families with compassion, treating them with proven therapies and empowering them with the proper tools, they reclaim their lives.
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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.
For more information on addiction, treatment and recovery, please visit valleyhope.org or for help 24/7 call (800) 544-5101.