The Role of Family Members in Addiction Recovery

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Substance use disorders (SUD) are considered a family disease. The actions of someone with SUD might disrupt their lives, and the negative consequences of their actions can impact their family. Parents, partners, and even children are each affected by a family member’s SUD. We may seem to be focusing on the negative aspects of addiction; however, our intent is not to shame those with addiction. Instead, the purpose is to help all affected people come together within the scope of family dynamics so recovery can begin for all involved. 


On the other hand, addiction recovery will also have a positive effect on all individuals involved — even the smallest victories will benefit both the patient and the family members that make up their support network. This is not to say that recovery will be all sunshine, roses, and family picnics. Addiction is a powerful disease with both physical and mental components. For those in recovery, the treatment process will involve learning how to do everything again as a sober individual. That means learning to socialize, work, play, and relax, all without the crutch of drugs and alcohol. 


This can be intimidating, and frustrations and failures will most certainly arise during the uphill struggle of early recovery. However, you will experience some success, as well. Family members acting as a support network can alleviate some of these frustrations by providing a solid and safe foundation. This foundation can begin to build trust, which might have dissolved during the pre-treatment stages of active addiction. If individuals can experience this foundation of trust at home, they will be less likely to succumb to triggers and maintain sobriety in their daily lives. Family members can provide stability in a time of novelty and uncertainty for those in recovery. 


At Choice House, we strongly encourage clients to take advantage of the built-in support network that family members can provide — especially when offered freely.


Utilizing a Built-in Support Network


Once leaving rehab, recovery efforts will be primarily left up to each person. The needs that were previously taken care of by a treatment facility — a listening ear, a safe space, the financial burdens of rent and food costs, etc.— will no longer be met. Family members can help fill some of that void as individuals begin to build their support network. A family support network can serve as a confidant, financier, or even provide a place to stay if necessary. 


There is an ease to relying on family members as relationships are already developed, for better or worse. This ready-made support network can serve as a solid foundation to branch out as clients form an extended support network in their local recovery community. The best part of asking family members for help is that it involves them in a patient’s recovery, some of which they will be experiencing as well.


Combatting Isolation With Family Members


Actively misusing illicit substances can lead to an isolated life, but recovery also has the potential to leave patients feeling alone, especially if they need to avoid triggering friends. A supportive family can provide some necessary relief from isolation. A good family support network can also extend feelings of normalcy in a time rife with uncertainty. Family can provide a necessary escape from the difficulties of recovery. 


Ultimately, the emotional component of providing stability is the most critical aspect of having family members as a part of your support network. Solid footing to set out into the world of triggers and stressors will help to maintain sobriety in the long term.  Family members can make up an inner circle of individuals who may not completely understand what their loved ones are experiencing in recovery but, in most cases, are still more than willing to lend a helping hand. 


Navigating Relationships by Maintaining an Open Dialogue 


Chances are that most addiction recovery patients have, in some way or another, isolated themselves from their loved ones or vice versa. Family members may not always spring at the opportunity to help. Depending on the bridges burned, family members may need some convincing. Family therapy sessions can begin to take the necessary steps to address and repair many of these relationships. 


Maintaining an open dialogue with family members will be paramount to forming the foundation of a working family support network. Honesty will help bridge some of the gaps left from old wounds caused during the pre-treatment stages of recovery and help to avoid any potential misunderstandings. Clients will need to be more open about their issues for family members to truly help, which can be intimidating. For most, this level of sober honesty will be new territory. That is why rehab facilities like Choice House conduct family therapy sessions to guide these conversations in early recovery.


Depending on the severity of the wounds created in a relationship, this could take days, months, or even years. However, families might gradually become convinced of a person’s sincerity just by seeing the efforts in recovery that they have made. For family members, support comes more easily and rarely feels like enabling when an individual in recovery actively tries to better their lives. 


Addiction with co-occurring mental health issues is a family disease. The actions of those in recovery will affect all individuals intimately involved in their lives, for better or worse. If you or someone you love struggles with substance use disorder (SUD), then Choice House has a dual-diagnosis treatment program that can help. We provide men with an opportunity to achieve initial sobriety and build a sober foundation based on love and empathy. Located in the Boulder County area of Colorado, our program includes a 90-day inpatient service, an intensive outpatient program, and the chance to take up residency at our sober living campus. Through various therapeutic modalities, participants in any of Choice House’s treatment programs can begin to learn the transitional skills necessary to maintain sobriety in the long term. Our approach addresses clients’ needs and the needs of each client’s support network through family counseling sessions. For more information regarding Choice House facilities or treatment programs, please give us a call at +1-303-578-4977.

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