We can’t choose our family, yet the unconditional love between parents, siblings, and relatives can be truly extraordinary. “Substance use disorders (SUDs) are associated with numerous medical, psychiatric, psychological, spiritual, economic, social, family, and legal problems, creating a significant burden for affected individuals, their families, and society” (Family and social aspects of substance use disorders and treatment, Daley, 2013.) When a member of a family is struggling with the disease of addiction, others will often want to discover how they can best be a support.
The survey “Poll: Only About Half of Addicted Family Members Sought Treatment” in Gallup found family support to be the single most cited reason for addiction recovery. This analysis will look at healthy ways for family members to engage with loved ones as they proceed through rehab and the early stages of recovery. Lantana Recovery understands the importance of families in the context of a larger sober network. That’s why Lantana offers a comprehensive family engagement program, complete with educational and support groups. Lantana Recovery even offers the option to participate directly in monthly therapy, should a client consent.
Relax a Little
A loved one’s entrance to inpatient rehab represents the end of a very painful journey and the beginning of a new horizon. There will continue to be deep lows and great highs as they follow their unique path to recovery. The good news is that, for now, your loved one is in the hands of trained medical professionals, counselors, and staff who know how to best manage the early stages of the recovery process.
Make Yourself Available
At the beginning of inpatient treatment, there will likely be few opportunities for contact with a loved one. Make your best effort to see them during the limited visiting times permitted by their facility. Let them know you’re excited about the new path they are forging for themselves and are preparing to support them when they eventually discharge. Lantana Recovery is notable for allowing the option of extensive family contact in the early stages of treatment.
Participate in Family Therapy
Understanding the experience of siblings may help health and social care professionals to develop compassion, patience and empathy towards family members of persons with addictions. Take advantage of family therapy or other programming offered through your loved one’s rehabilitation program. This is a great way to send a message to a loved one that you’re “all in” with regard to their recovery. It also affords the opportunity to resolve unhealthy familial dynamics under the careful eye of a trained professional. According to the Journal of Substance Abuse and Treatment, this is empirically important to your loved one’s long-term success.
Join a Family Support Group
Family interactions and roles offer the opportunity to both facilitate and impede recovery. Family support groups can provide a nice sense of shared friendship among kindred spirits who are experiencing similar highs and lows. Al-Anon is one of the most well-known, but there are many other options. These include:
- NAMI Family Support Group: NAMI affiliates exist across the United States and offer free support groups for adult family members of loved ones who are struggling with a mental illness.
- Nar-Anon: Similar to Al-Anon, Nar-Anon offers a 12-Step program for families of individuals who struggle with narcotic addictions.
- Alateen: Under the same umbrella as Al-Anon, Alateen is targeted toward younger families and friends of individuals who struggle with addiction.
- Families Anonymous: Founded in 1971, Families Anonymous is another unique 12-Step family support program with no affiliation to Al-Alon.
- Parents of Addicted Loved Oes: Facilitates weekly support and educational groups designed by professionals for parents with an addicted child. It operates through a Christian paradigm.
- SMART Recovery Family & Friends: A secular version of Al-Anon, it is a science-based program for people who are important in the lives of those who struggle with addiction.
Understand That Your Loved One Will Not Be Cured
Rehab is the first step on a long journey. Accept that when your loved one emerges, they will still struggle. However, they will have learned skills and strategies to cope with their addiction. They will also likely have started trying to develop healthy habits in every aspect of their lives – from relationships to diet, exercise, to mindfulness. It’s important to understand that cravings will still occur, and relapses may happen. Even for the most dedicated and successful, the process of recovery is never a straight line.
Consider Changes to Your Lifestyle
Contemplate making changes to your own lifestyle to support your loved one in recovery. If your loved one is living with you after rehab, think about getting rid of all alcohol and drugs in the home. You might also want to make family events entirely sober. Avoid co-dependency or “babysitting,” but consider empowering your loved ones to attend medical appointments or support meetings by helping them schedule rides, find phone numbers, or get local bus schedules. You might even want to encourage healthy habits by joining in the preparation of a nutritious meal or by being a workout buddy.
There is a saying when on aircraft that in the event of a change in cabin pressure, “Affix your own oxygen mask before helping others.” The same rule applies to family members of individuals who struggle with addiction. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, feel free to take a step back, say “no” to a request, or otherwise recharge your batteries.
The ultimate triumph of recovery can be one of the most rewarding experiences of life. Embrace it, and make sure you have fun with your loved one along the way. Work with your loved one to attend events, pick up new hobbies, or participate in adventures that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.
Family is forever, addiction doesn’t have to be. Lantana Recovery is here to work with families to facilitate a new chapter in the lives of loved ones who are struggling. The Lantana Recovery model is unlike most. From an early stage of the recovery process, clients will be challenged to face their triggers, embrace healthy habits, and get to the root of their addiction. This allows for a seamless transition home upon discharge. The option for extensive family contact and programming, should a client consent, means relationships can be grown and maintained throughout the process.