Alcohol abuse and substance abuse not only affects the individual with the problem but also the entire family. That’s why we stress the importance of family in recovery.
5 Ways Family Members Can Support Their Loved Ones in Drug or Alcohol Recovery
1. Understand Extended Problems
Even though your family member may have successfully completed treatment, the consequences of addiction could continue to affect the rest of the family for a long time. You may face ongoing hardships, such as financial difficulties, health problems and relationship issues.
- How to Address These Challenges
- a) Meet with a financial advisor. They can help you based on your financial needs, as well as help you plan your short-term and long-term needs. If necessary,
you can also take out a loan until you feel that your finances are more secured.
- b) Encourage regular doctor visits for your family member. Just because he or she has completed rehabilitation doesn’t mean health problems aren’t lingering.
- c) Attend family-based therapy. You can learn to practice honest and open communication within relationships.
2. Become Educated and Stay Involved
In most cases, drug use significantly changes the lives of all those close to the addict – none more so than the immediately family. For this reason, the family often needs help, too.
The Schnellenberger Family Foundation and our affiliated Recovery Boot Camp provide education for family members on topics such as how addiction works and how to handle stress. These programs are key to restoring the health of the family unit after addiction.
The entire family needs to be involved in the treatment as well as the recovery process. To do this, the family will need to learn the best ways to support the recovering addict. Agreeing to participate in family education is a great way to support the addict’s recovery.
There are also many outpatient family therapy programs are available for you and your loved ones. You meet with a certified therapist who teaches you intervention skills you can use at home during stressful and trigger situations. You learn healthy communication skills and ways to express feelings and needs without projecting blame.
3. Support Sobriety
One of the most important things that a family needs to be aware of when living with a recovering alcoholic or drug addict is the importance of family members maintaining an alcohol- or drug-free and sober lifestyle.
Keeping someone in recovery away from the temptation of using is essential, especially in the first year of recovery.
A home should be completely emptied of any substances that could be intoxicating. If your family has always kept alcohol or other substances on hand for social events or special occasions, it may be necessary for everyone to make a lifestyle change to support a loved one during recovery.
The family can also participate in activities and hobbies consistent with a substance-free lifestyle i.e. starting a garden or visiting a museum.
4. Obtain Support for Yourself
Just as the individual in recovery will require support from family and friends, it will also be important for family members to have support.
Many family support groups can provide encouragement to help people cope with the emotional and physical stress that can accompany supporting an individual in recovery.
Seeking support for yourself can also have an additional benefit. When your recovering family member sees you asking for support, they may be more likely to seek out support on their own in the form of recovery and aftercare support services .
- Here are a few different support groups designed for the friends and family members of recovering addicts:
- Nar-Anon 12-step program for family and friends of drug addicts.
- Al-Anon 12-step program for family and friends of alcoholics.
- Adult Children of Alcoholics A group for adults who grew up in an alcoholic household and display characteristics associated with trauma and abuse.
- Families Anonymous All-encompassing 12-step program for family and friends of those afflicted by substance abuse or behavioral addictions.
- SMART Recovery Family and Friends A science-based support program for family and friends of alcoholics, drug addicts and other related addictions.
5. Reduce Stress
Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts may be more susceptible to stress and, in turn, to relapse. Some of the most common sources for stress among individuals in recovery include family conflicts, relationships, work,school, health concerns and finances.
Understanding what to expect and how to help a recovering alcoholic or drug addict proceed with recovery can prove to be beneficial. You can offer them resources that can help with stress, such as relationship counseling, adult education, therapy and support groups. In addition, it’s important to focus on yourself and manage your own stress. Don’t merely suggest stress-relieving activities. Offer to do the activities with them. Encourage open and honest communication, free of blaming language.
Family in Recovery
We at the Schnellenberger Family Foundation remind every family in recovery that recovery takes teamwork. Don’t expect recovering drug addicts or alcoholics to behave perfectly when they first leave rehab. Even after successfully completing our Recovery Boot Camp’s Basic Training, a client will often need time to adjust to life outside of treatment. Your job is to foster and promote a supportive and comfortable environment for he or she to adapt.