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Helping a Family Member in Recovery
Nothing can replace the support of a good family. When a family member struggles with drug addiction, a healthy family support system can significantly differentiate the addict’s recovery. Conversely, it’s important to recognize when family bias or relationship toxicities have detrimental effects on an addict’s recovery.
When determining how to help an addict in recovery, it is essential to consider the family’s dynamic in terms of strengths, struggles, and addiction education. Furthermore, integrating a patient’s therapy with their family’s treatment can result in rehab’s most positive experience.
Just as the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” says, in the same sense, it takes a family to support a recovering addict. In treatment, there are individual and family therapies that serve to unite families with education and compassion.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, consider reaching out to an addiction specialist at (888) 906-0952. An agent can provide education and resources for individuals and families to come together for the patient’s health.
- Understanding the 2 Disciplines of Therapy
- Education Gives Rise to Compassion
- Family Functionality
- Family Involvement Equals Increased Success Rate
- How to Help Your Recovering Family Member or Loved One
Understanding the 2 Disciplines of Therapy
Supporting an addict in recovery requires a general understanding of the dual dynamics of treatment therapy. On the one hand, there is individual therapy, whereas the other hand is family therapy.
These two disciplines can unite harmoniously to create a balanced environment, much like an ecosystem. Attending to only one side creates an imbalance that can sway the outcome of an addict’s recovery.
Throughout individual therapy, an addict can identify and heal from their origin of substance use, such as trauma or environment. Additionally, undergoing family therapy can illuminate and address a family’s strengths and weaknesses that can both help and hurt both parties.
The analysis of both the yin and yang of the family unit can serve as a time of reflection, positivity, and growth for everyone involved.
Though this may be difficult for everyone, viewing addiction treatment as a learning experience for everyone can unite families with the tools to move forward together.
If you think of drug addiction recovery as a triangular diagram, you will find three components that create a guiding template. As the strongest shape, triangles serve as a support system in which all sides must be balanced and equal to maintain its shape.
The triangle diagram consists of:
- A willing and participating patient.
- An involved and adaptable family unit.
- The integration of lessons learned.
Additionally, another powerful triangle template references the three key elements of effective communication. As communication is the foundation to any relationship, these three points can act as a filter when participating in both individual and family therapies.
Three key elements of effective communication are to:
- Reflect truth.
- Promote positivity.
- Encourage growth.
These diagrams work as practical tools to stay focused on how to help an addict in recovery by engaging in this two-way learning experience where everyone can succeed.
Education Gives Rise to Compassion
Negative stereotypes surround the word “addiction.” Addicts are often labeled as “dirty” due to judgmental societal stigmas that can deter someone from treatment.
Contrary to popular belief, addiction can happen to anyone, at any age, and at any time. Whether someone is addicted to illicit drugs or took their prescription medication as instructed, addiction is a disease that can affect anyone.
As a disease, addiction reconstructs the brain to prioritize drug use above all else. Abnormal behaviors, such as lying, cheating, stealing, and manipulating, are symptoms of a disease that overpowers decision-making skills.
Furthermore, this disease becomes stronger over time, causing the addict’s brain to “hunt” for more of the drug regardless of who it hurts in the process.
Ultimately, Substance Use Disorder tends to stem from either a traumatic experience or a reaction to their environment.
Regardless of the origin of use, once addiction settles inside the brain, the disease begins to eat at everything in someone’s life, such as relationships, assets, and livelihood.
Shame and Blame Hurts the Patient
Regardless of others’ opinions, there is no room in recovery for shame and blame. Though it is encouraged to speak your feelings in family therapy, attacking the patient with negative comments like:
- “This is your fault”
- “You obviously don’t care about yourself, why should I?”
- “If you would just stop, you’d be fine”
These shaming comments are not only hurtful but are untrue. Addiction is a disease that takes over mental, physical, and emotional cognizance. Therefore, it’s not a choice to “just stop” nor is it a reflection of an addict’s self-preservation.
Instead, understand that, like any other disease, the patient will need medical attention to recover from addiction.
Furthermore, their presence in rehab speaks volumes about their decision to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
In that regard, they are in recovery to stop using drugs and can benefit from a family that embraces education and compassion.
Like in any family, there are functional strengths and dysfunctional weaknesses. Though this is natural, an addicted family member can give rise to both the family’s best and worst parts.
In family therapy, there are fantastic opportunities to identify and empower family strengths while also recognizing and problem-solving family struggles.
When working with members of a team, each member brings something of value to the unit.
Similarly, each member of a patient’s family has something to add to the mix. However, it’s essential to identify whether someone’s contributions are helping or hurting the situation.
By viewing family therapy as a learning experience for all, problem-solving familial weaknesses will prove beneficial in addition to the family’s skill and toolsets.
Understandably, identifying weaknesses can become emotional. However, family therapy is not to cast shame but rather to nurture growth and prosperity deficiencies.
Know That No One is Beyond Help
Regardless of personal beliefs, no one is beyond help. Through education and compassion, both individuals and families can benefit from therapeutic experiences.
Some parents even discover that their childhood experiences were traumatic, leading to unintentional toxicity in their parenting.
Upon further investigation, most troubled families found that unprocessed emotions were a common denominator in therapeutic discussions. In this regard, healing can extend to more than the patient, but the core of the family unit.
It is essential to remember that identifying dysfunctions within the family is not to label a family, or family members, as “weak,” but rather to encourage growth and happiness.
Loved ones of addicts often don’t see what is helping or hurting the patient. What feels like compassion can sometimes be identified as enabling.
Though the intentions were good, the effects may be more damaging than one may realize. In this sense, family therapy can genuinely help others learn how to help an addict in recovery.
Just as a brilliant mind always has room to learn, all families have room to grow in the same way.
Therefore, a higher perspective of truth, compassion, and growth will serve families greater than becoming defensive or intolerant.
Furthermore, when referencing the triangle diagram, an involved and adaptable family unit is one of the three pillars that allow the triangle’s strength to hold its shape.
Family Involvement Equals Increased Success Rate
When families pull together, there is truly little than cannot be accomplished. United families grow and adapt to each member’s needs and specialties, creating a level and sturdy balance.
Studies often refer to addiction to drugs and alcohol as “family diseases.” This term refers to how one family member’s disease can have effects that reach the entire family unit.
Anger, disappointment, confusion, and even embarrassment are common emotions among family members of addicts.
Though everyone is entitled to their feelings, these are not elements that will help your loved one recover from drug or alcohol addiction.
Addressing these emotions inside family therapy can help family members cope and strengthen the support system for the patient.
Psychologists often reference that the stronger the patient’s support system, the higher the likelihood of a successful recovery.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that families can significantly increase the success rates when supporting a recovering addict proactively.
How to Help Your Recovering Family Member
The entire situation is likely to feel overwhelming. Many drastic changes are happening, and it’s normal to experience feelings of loss and confusion.
However, there are tools, resources, and experts available to guide you and your family every step of the way.
By attending open support group meetings, helping your loved one to attend treatment appointments, and always finding new ways to show compassion, families can learn how to help an addict in recovery in the healthiest way possible.
Furthermore, attending to small details that the patient may not think of can help to keep an addict on the right track and prepared.
Details such as:
- Using a separate calendar strictly for patient appointments, meetings, and medicines.
- Assisting in transportation to and from scheduled appointments.
- Helping the patient with paperwork such as registration, insurance information, and enrollment forms.
- Assisting the patient to adhere to a schedule or routine, such as using alarm clocks and reminders.
- These accommodations may not seem like much; however, it tends to be the smallest detail that becomes the most impactful.
“A single grain of rice can tip the scale. One man may be the difference between victory and defeat.” -Pat Morita, “Mulan” 1998.
Addiction will take away anything a person is willing to feed it. As a disease, addiction can rob someone of their relationships, livelihood, and assets. By altering brain chemistry, this disease causes the addict to behave and respond in ways that are likely abnormal.
The two disciplines of therapy are individual and family therapies. The integration of the lessons learned produces the highest likelihood of an addict’s successful recovery.
It is easier to imagine a triangle diagram to illustrate the components that strengthen the shape’s integrity.
Consider utilizing the three key elements of effective communication when participating in therapeutic discussions.
By reflecting truth, promoting positivity, and encouraging growth, families can more easily view this chapter of life as a learning experience for all involved.
Family therapy can heal more than just the patient, but the entire family unit moving forward with the tools and resources you can keep.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, consider reaching out to an addiction specialist at the number on your screen. An agent can provide education and resources for individuals and families to come together for the patient’s health. Call (888) 906-0952 today.
When times get challenging, families that work and band together are far more likely to weather the storm. If one of your teammates is hurting, it’s time to come together to save one of your own.
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Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH on 4/18/2022
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