Families are a unique dynamic. Some families speak only on occasion, others talk every week, and some not at all. Each person holds a specific place in the family, and many people put importance on that place.
When you are in addiction recovery, most of your family will know. How each person responds to your addiction recovery is individual to that person. Some may be more supportive than others.
It is essential to know that you cannot go through addiction recovery on your own. While you will be involved in all aspects of recovery, you will need and want your family’s support.
Here’s how your family can support you in addiction recovery.
If They Want to Help, Let Them Help
If someone asks what they can do to help you while in recovery, allow them to help. Ask them what they might be willing to do. Can they be available to take care of children or pets? Can they help with household chores? If they let you know they are there for you to lean on, to vent to, say thank you, and let them be there.
There are many small things family members can do to support you. They can remind you about therapy sessions, drive you to the store or pharmacy, or simply let you know they are there when you need them.
Ask Family Members to Give Positive, Constructive Feedback
There is nothing more encouraging than your family when they are truly supporting you with positive feedback and encouragement. It raises your esteem and bolsters your recovery efforts. It fills you with pride. Constructive feedback is equally valuable in knowing the areas that need improvement or an extra push to stay focused on recovery.
A PsychCentral article states, “Addiction therapy is supported heavily by positive and frequent family involvement. The support that a family provides to a patient recovering from addiction is essential to that patient’s success. …”
Encourage your family to be involved in your recovery.
Make Healthy Options a Family Matter
Healthy choices are smart choices that benefit the entire family. From meals to physical activity to rest and leisure activities, there are many ways your family can join in healthier pursuits. They can:
- Grab healthy snacks at the store and bring them to you
- Make healthy meals for you or share a favorite recipe
- If they live close, family members can meet you for walks, hikes, bike rides, and other healthy activities
- They can seek out positive video or audio recordings to share with you.
- They can invite you to their faith service or can join you at yours.
- They can continue encouraging you to attend 12-step meetings. They also can attend meetings for families, like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon.
Other Ways Your Family Can Support You
- They can set boundaries by not allowing drug- or alcohol-using friends of yours in the home.
- They can check in with you to see ask where you have been and what you’ve been doing, and not lecture you if they don’t approve of the answer.
- They can attend family therapy sessions and workshops and actively engage in them.
- They can offer you rides to where you need to go, like counseling appointments, support groups, etc.
Learn About Substance Use, Addiction, and Recovery
Another important step—and arguably the most beneficial—is to learn as much about substance use, addiction, and recovery as possible. This knowledge is valuable for several reasons, such as to develop a stronger sense of empathy and a better understanding of your struggle with addiction. They will be able to better identify signs of substance abuse or addiction and other problematic behaviors. They will gain more knowledge of the recovery process and their part in it.
It’s also good to have a thorough understanding of addiction because it allows individuals to be better equipped to deal with many of the situations that might occur.
Don’t Protect Your Loved One from Consequences
Family members, friends, and other intimate relations offer an individual unconditional love, even when the addicted person’s behavior is shocking and upsetting. However, codependency is very common in families, and it occurs when an addicted person’s loved ones enable the substance use behavior out of fear of being rejected or abandoned by the addicted person.
Part of this enabling usually entails shielding the addicted family member from the consequences of their substance abuse by trying to keep the individual out of legal trouble or offering the individual money whenever it’s needed. But protecting the substance abuser from the consequences of their actions will prolong the individual’s addiction, as it’s often the consequences of addiction that motivate individuals to seek treatment.
There are many ways in which your family can support you in addiction treatment. From attending family support groups to offering to help you in any positive, constructive way, you will need and want family support in addiction therapy. There are programs, groups, and online assistance for every type of family member. Encourage them to support you the best way they can.