When a person gets sober, there are a lot of things that may go through a loved one’s mind. Families are not immune to the effects of addiction by any stretch, and it takes a lot of strength to remain by a loved one’s ups and downs as they begin their journey.
Experts usually describe addiction as a family disease. This description doesn’t mean that you cause a loved one’s substance use disorder. It does, however, mean that you can help them recover but you can't carry the burden or do their work for them. While the journey is there for them to walk on their own, healing can take place within the family as well.
Helping Your Loved One
As a family member, you probably have a lot of hopes as well as fears about the journey your loved one is taking. If they have been to rehab before, you might think that they need “extra” help to stay sober. The truth is that relapse is usually a part of a person’s recovery. If your loved one relapsed in the past, it doesn’t mean they weren’t trying hard enough. It said that their addiction is powerful and hard to overcome. Try to trust the process.
Here are a few more suggestions to help your loved one in sobriety:
- Get out of the way and let them work on themselves. You may think that helping your loved one means checking up on them and pushing them to try new things to cope with their life. You may have enabled them in the past and thought you were “helping” – such as when you gave them money or bailed them out of jail. It’s time for them to build a strong support network and learn to stand on their own two feet. If they need your help, they will ask you. (But don’t bow to unreasonable requests.)
- Trust the process. Getting sober can be messy; your loved one will be working on processing new information, feeling old and new feelings, and trying to be comfortable in their skin. Sometimes they will make mistakes. Sometimes you might argue with them. Don’t let these small setbacks cause you to lose your faith in their recovery program.
- Get help if you need it. It’s okay to have conflicting emotions and attitudes about your loved one’s new path in life. But they are not ready to hear or process your baggage yet; it takes time for them to become sane and stable again. A therapy group or self-help group like Al-Anon can help you deal with your issues.
- Read literature on addiction. There are many books, newsletters, blogs, and forums that discuss life in recovery. Ask your loved one’s treatment center for suggestions, especially if you feel a little lost with all of their new activities.
- Practice self-care. If you need to cry and beat up a pillow to deal with your feelings, permit yourself to do that. You may also find yoga, exercise, or meditation help you deal with stress. Your family is in a period of transition, and you’re not in charge of the process. You can, however, take responsibility for your personal mental health.
Getting Help for Addiction
If you or a loved one needs help with a substance use disorder, we’re here to guide you. Recovery is a process that is open to everyone, but asking for help is always the first hurdle. We can help you plan your journey in an empathetic, safe, and healthy environment. You CAN reclaim your life. Give us a call at 619-363-4767 for more information.
Addiction is a disease that can tornado through family life and leave loved ones trying to pick up the pieces. While a person may act selfishly when in the grip of their disease, recovery, too, focuses on the self. If you have a loved one in recovery, they will need space and time to heal and begin their recovery journey. It’s important that you let them have the space to heal and change at their own pace. It may be hard for you to let go. This is why we recommend that family and friends have their own “recovery plan.”
Understanding Addiction as a Disease
Addiction, also referred to as a substance use disorder, is a disease that is progressive in nature. It affects the way the brain thinks and a person acts and feels. No one chooses to become addicted to substance, and most people say they wouldn’t wish it on their worst enemy.
There are many aspects of a person’s life that are affected by addiction, as well as their brain chemistry and physical health. Once the substances are removed from a person’s body, there are still many things that need to be worked on. Your loved one will never be the exact person they were before they started using substances; after all, addiction is a traumatic disease and trauma often changes people.
Learning About Addiction
Learning about addiction will help you understand the process your loved one is going through. There are many books you can check out from the library or recommended videos and movies that you can stream online. Treatment counselors or members of Al-Anon groups may be able to point you in the right direction.
Neither Addiction Nor Recovery Happen Overnight
When your loved one first gets clean and sober, it can seem like life is back in a whirlwind. It’s easy to worry about a person in recovery’s comings and goings and wonder if they’re going to be able to stay clean and sober.
Addiction didn’t take place overnight, and trust and relationships won’t heal overnight. You may find yourself falling into old patterns of behavior when you’re worried about your loved one, or questioning why they have to go to so many therapy appointments and 12-step meetings.
Recovery for Family Members
Family members may need a support group to help them as their loved one goes through changes. Many people who go to groups for family members of addicts say they’ve learned more about themselves and their loved ones’ addiction. A group can help you learn more about how addiction has affected you, as well as your loved one, and how you can start to heal from the damage and learn to focus on your own life.
There are many groups available for families of addicted people, including Al-Anon, Codependents Anonymous and groups hosted by treatment recovery centers. If you’re unsure of resources available in your own area, ask a local treatment center for recommendations.
Getting Help for Addiction
No matter what or how much you or a loved one has used, recovery is possible. At Present Moments Recovery, we offer a nurturing, addiction-informed environment that helps our clients chart their own paths to recovery. If needed, we can also provide Medication-Assisted Treatment, which has been referred to by the FDA as the “gold standard” of treatment options when offered alongside talk therapy.
Please contact us to learn more how we can help! Call us at 619-363-4767.