The Role Of Family Support In Addiction Recovery
In general, your family are the people that are closest to you, know you the best, and have been through the most with you. If you have a family member that is struggling with addiction, you might be wondering what exactly you should be doing to help them, what you can be doing, and what your role should look like throughout the process.
How should you act? What is the best way to help them? What can you do right now? If you’re asking these questions, feeling helpless, frustrated, or weak when it comes to your loved one, you’re not alone. Understanding them and what is the best way for you to help them will be a bigger godsend than you can imagine. You can help.
Keep Your Expectations in Place
This might hurt to hear, but it truly makes a lot of sense once hearing it. Your loved one is human, they could have hit rock bottom multiple times, and they might even be heading there once more. While you should do what you can to prevent that, understanding that recovery doesn’t look as clean and linear as everyone involved would like is critical when understanding what you can do to help. Be compassionate, understanding, and above all, be ready to accept them back time and time again.
Addiction is not a choice – it’s a change in brain chemistry that cannot be explained to a healthy mind. Their brains will work and think differently from yours, and understanding that will grant you the empathy you need to help deal with them.
You choosing to help them in their time of need is noble – and it will undoubtedly help them beyond your understanding, but it will not solve all of their problems. They might still have their driver’s license suspended, be on probation, or a host of other issues that might exist in their life that lead them to their addiction. You can be a support, but you cannot solve all of these problems for them, as much as you would like to.
As they go through recovery, because of their changes in behavior, they might seem like a completely different person. While it changes from person to person if this is something to encourage or not, at the end of the day, they really, truly are the person that you always knew and loved before.
Lifestyle vs Personality
While your loved one might change their lifestyle, their personality will stay the same. This is an important distinction to make. Just like those optical illusions – changing the scenery can make something look like something else that it’s not. Two gears of the same size and shape can operate in two entirely different machines, they will have different functions, different sceneries, and because of this, look like two entirely different gears – but the fact of the matter is that they are the same gear, and so is your loved one. Unrecognizable in their new setting but still the same person that they have always been.
When recovery first starts, it might be necessary for you to cut all contact with your loved one. While this might be an incredibly difficult time for you, remember that the recovery process is not about you, and this is truly what’s best for them. Oftentimes, when the hardest detoxing process is over, the person can come back into your life and you can begin to find your place in their new life as the support that you have prepared to be.
Once they’re back in your life, it’s important to remember two things:
- They may want to avoid specific events, family related or otherwise, because it might be a trigger for them that they want to avoid.
- Make it easier for them to integrate back into life by not offering their substance to them at any expense. This might mean having a dry Christmas party this year.
Both of these things are important to remember and implement throughout your life – even if they say it’s okay or it’s not a big deal – make every attempt to make it easy for them wherever you can. Understand that sacrificing one or multiple family events is more important than the entire life of your loved one. If this is something that will not only help them stay sober but live the life that they’re destined to, you should be in full support of that, in private and in public.
Trust and Support the Process, Even When They Don’t
Recovery is no easy task – there will be times where your loved one feels totally helpless, lost and will just want to give up. They might even try to convince you that it’s a good idea for them to give up as it would make them happier and feel better overall. This is when you need to be your strongest. The best thing for them is to stick to the path that they’ve already chosen. They are stronger than their temporary urges, and in these moments is when you can be the best support for them. Encourage them.
Beyond relapse, there are so many other struggles that your loved one will face in these moments. Counseling is hard. Having someone reveal the hardest parts about your life and the feeling of conviction is not easy to continue to want. In these moments you need to encourage them that they are on the right path. They might get upset with how strict their parole officer is, or any other number of conflicts that can arise from that. They may get sick of attending the group counseling sessions and decide that they no longer need them.
These are all normal thoughts, and things that should be addressed by someone that your loved one trusts (you, hopefully). Encourage them that the doctors that have created these programs really know what they’re doing, that people that follow these programs actually do get sober, and most of all, remind them of their own goals. Remind them that their life is really worth living, and that you care about them.
Encourage and engage your loved one to stay the course. You know how far they have come, you know the struggles that they have been through. Remind them of this. You truly can make a big difference in this area.
Get Yourself Support
These situations aren’t always easy. They will be overwhelming, trying, tiring, and make you want to give up on your loved one in the worst of times. Don’t feel bad about these thoughts – they, too, are normal. You shouldn’t have to go through this alone, just as your loved one doesn’t have to face their addiction alone.
If you are struggling with any of these thoughts, or excess anger, guilt, sadness or any other unwanted or unusual emotions, it might be time for you to get yourself your own support. Humans are communal creatures, and we thrive in the communities that we build for ourselves. Don’t neglect yourself, get yourself help.
In these moments it’s monumentally important to remember that you cannot help your loved one if you yourself are not full and being taken care of. If you neglect your own basic needs, how can you serve another? It’s rightly impossible. Make sure that you are eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, and dealing with your own stress in a healthy and appropriate way.
Remember Who You’re Fighting For
Keeping the goal in mind is just as important for you as it is for them. Remember the person that you’re fighting for, keep in mind the person that you want them to become. You can help them, you can encourage them, but you must always be reminding yourself and them of the purpose of all of this.
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, reach out to us at ecosoberhouse.devshell.site right away. We want to help you and your family members reach and keep sobriety.