In many respects, the path to addiction recovery is a team effort. Like a race car driver, the addiction sufferer must do the driving to cross the finish line, but the pit crew provides the driver with essential support in much the same way that addiction specialists, counselors and family members do for addiction sufferers.
When you're striving to overcome a substance use disorder, it's important to include supportive family members in the process because they can help you reach your goal of long-term sobriety.
Information and Education
The first step to including family members in the recovery process1 is to talk to them about the nature of your addiction. Educate them about what substance addiction is and how it has affected your life. You may want to provide them with educational information obtained from your treatment center or websites where they can read about this disease. When they understand what addiction is and how it works, they'll be able to provide you with support when you need it.
Sometimes family members are enabling or not supportive of recovery when it comes to addiction. Whenever possible, attending family therapy2 is immensely helpful for individuals recovering from addiction and for family members who may be struggling with anger or trust issues in response to their loved one’s addiction. The counselor or therapist works with everyone to help create a cohesive and supportive unit where each member can share in the real benefits that come with recovery.
Support in Recovery
Addiction is an incredibly debilitating illness. Some sufferers truly reach rock bottom. You may need your family to help you financially or even to provide you with shelter as you travel through the initial phases of your recovery journey. In some cases, you may need transportation to get to treatment sessions or work. If you need assistance, this is the time to reach out to your family and ask for their help.
Many people undergoing addiction treatment rely on family members for companionship and emotional support. This is an excellent way to include family in the treatment process. Your family can provide encouragement and help you keep hope alive as you struggle to cope with cravings or triggers. They can provide an ear when you need to talk to someone and explain what you're going through.
Early on in the treatment process, it's helpful to talk about relapse and its risks. Educate your family about the stages of relapse so they can learn to spot them should you begin to revert to old patterns. Your family can help you find strategies for coping with negative emotions or other triggers that have led you to abuse alcohol or drugs.
It may be that not all family members will be willing to participate in your recovery process. Family members who abuse drugs or alcohol will not be able to provide the support you need during your journey to long-term sobriety. Abusive or uncooperative family members may also not be able to assist.
Certainly, having a supportive family is ideal, but if you do not have family to help you, you will still be able to find help at addiction treatment centers. You may also find added support by moving into a sober-living community. The key is to get treatment; addiction treatment offers your best chance for long-term recovery.