Addiction can be an isolating and debilitating experience. However, it still affects the people in one’s life — friends, workplace peers and especially one’s own family.
While a person may want to address their struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol in a private setting, addiction will often have ramifications for their family and loved ones. It is important to acknowledge the familial element throughout addiction recovery to create a supportive healing environment, both inside and outside of the treatment facility. Addressing addiction as a family can bring about more in-depth understanding and support. It can also help each member move through their own experiences with addiction, whether they are coping with urges themselves or learning to forgive and support loved ones who are.
Family is the Best Support
Family can be a powerful support through every stage in life. Even if an individual is living on their own, there is a vital connection shared with those who have seen a person grow from a child, explore their identity, pursue their own goals and define their own life. This lifelong connection can create some of the most profound support. However, it can also make it difficult to keep one’s addiction wholly separated from the ones they love.
Acknowledging the presence of one’s family and the potential support they can bring, as well as how one’s addiction may have unintentionally affected them, is a critical first step. This realization can allow families to address addiction as a unified group, rather than coping with it while feeling fractured, emotional or resentful. The unconditional love and understanding that a family can provide are invaluable through the arduous journey to sobriety. Families can be the best support from the beginning of one’s addiction through to an individual’s newfound life in sobriety.
Address the Emotional Stress of Addiction
Addiction takes a toll on everyone, and an individual suffering from addiction can change the entire atmosphere of a home. Addiction can cause a person’s emotional state to become erratic, and feelings of sadness or anger may be prevalent throughout the day, affecting others’ behaviors and creating a tense environment.
These feelings can be incredibly stressful for all family members and can garner frustration and resentment from family members as they vicariously feel the effects of addiction. Without addressing the familial element of addiction, each family member’s complex emotions can go unaddressed and continue harming relationships, even as a person is making progress in their sobriety.
Unresolved resentment can make forgiveness difficult, and feelings of anger may persist even years into a person’s recovery if they are never overtly discussed. Acknowledgment of the situation and being outwardly aware of how addiction indirectly and negatively affects one’s loved ones can create the needed foundation for meaningful conversation and healing. Participating in family therapy programs can provide the safe environment required for this kind of delicate and emotional conversation.
Create a Plan Together
The first step in confronting addiction as a family is creating a recovery plan together. Recovery from addiction isn’t something that solely takes place within a facility. Working together to create a recovery plan on the home front can make the transition between one’s recovery facility and home life healthy for all involved.
When creating a family plan, it is essential to allow each member to speak candidly and acknowledge the legitimacy of each member’s emotions. Those in recovery from addiction may still need to work through complicated emotional barriers. In contrast, family members may need to express their feelings about providing support and how addiction has affected them. Creating a dedicated schedule can allow each member of a family to mentally prepare themselves for difficult conversations so that no one member feels attacked during discussions. Doing so can help keep the conversation focused on change and development.
Creating this plan also allows new restrictions to be put in place while justifying their presence. Imparting new limits on an individual in recovery from addiction, such as a curfew, can be a difficult process, especially if the reasoning behind new restrictions isn’t adequately explained and agreed upon. Having a conversation, explaining the benefits and thoughts behind certain restrictions, and reaching an agreement can help prevent further resentment from growing within the family.
How Family Therapy Helps
Family programs can be exceptionally beneficial for all members. They can heal as a group and address the complex nature of relationships and the various ways addiction affects each loved one. This safe space can help model at-home practices and approaches to communication while allowing individuals to express difficult emotions in a secure environment.
Addiction may feel isolating, but the impact of addiction often stretch far beyond just one person. Acknowledging the various ways addiction to drugs or alcohol can affect even the closest loved ones is paramount for creating a safe, healthy and progressive unified front dedicated to recovery and a sober future.
Confronting addiction to drugs or alcohol as a family can provide each member with support and understanding. A family learns to work together, forgive, and create a plan for a new future. If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol and is ready to take the first step towards healing as a family unit, Avalon Malibu can help. We offer an array of services, from detox and residential care to intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs, as well as a family-based option to help loved ones grow and confront addiction together. We also offer a wide variety of therapeutic approaches, from a 12-Step program, cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga, and meditation, to physically active options, including our seasonal ropes course. For more information on how we can help create the right plan for you, call us today at (844) 857-5992.