The Advantages of Family Involvement In Addiction Treatment
In a way, we are the sum of our experiences and perceptions of people around us. Through our families, friends, adversaries, and role models, we create an image of what we should be like, and struggle to fulfill those self-set expectations. In a perfect world, the family helps us not just figure out who we are, who we want to be, and who we don’t want to be but also helps us get through the toughest times by providing support when we need it, especially for those struggling through addiction treatment.
In many cases of addiction, family involvement is deeply ingrained in the development of addiction. Sometimes, parents and their children don’t understand each other – at other times, a particularly stressful family tragedy may have set the wheels in motion for a cascade of problems. And just as a family often plays a role in addiction, family is vital in its treatment.
Addiction can come out of nowhere or be part of a greater complex of psychological troubles, including depression and trauma. Regardless of how an addiction is formed, getting through addiction treatment alone is an incredible (and, for some, impossible) task. Not only are you fighting the cravings for drug use, but you must battle the early mood swings of recovery, the emotional rollercoaster of sobriety, and the feelings of guilt that often accompany addiction recovery.
People make the common misconception that going cold turkey on a serious addiction is all you need to overcome it. However, this isn’t true – much like how people with severe depression can’t just “suck it up” and be back to normal. Addiction is far more complicated, and addiction treatment is far more challenging. But with a supportive family on your side, your chances of overcoming a drug or bad habit can increase significantly.
You’ll Have Close Support
The keyword here is support – a supportive family is the ultimate prerequisite for family involvement. It is much harder for a family to help in your situation if they are more likely to foster an enabling, toxic environment.
However, if your family understands your situation and does the research necessary to understand its effect on you, it can be a huge asset. By being around a supportive family, you will be surrounded by people who can help keep you motivated on days when all other motivation fails. They can keep you on the straight edge in desperate moments when things are feeling incredibly hard. They can help you deal with emotional loads and relieve stress, and find solutions to nagging life problems.
Addiction treatment is hard, and the pain of one family member can reflect on the rest of the family. Choosing to support your loved one in their recovery is not easy, and the stress of helping someone maintain sobriety through the hardest times can be a bit much at times. Therefore, it is important for families to work together not just to help one member but help everyone stay sane.
Family therapy is a great option for families trying to help someone stay sober without letting the stress of recovery tear them apart. Education, stress relief exercises, and therapeutic conversations enable behavior and codependency to be addressed and eliminated. In some cases, addiction in the family can overshadow other existing or recent problems – family therapy can be a way to help identify and address these as well.
An Opportunity To Fix Things
Not all families are ready to help support one another in the case of addiction. Not all families are communicative. But all families can work towards that point. Addiction can be a common cause the family can come together around, banding up to help defeat it and drive it out. It can provide a family with the motivation and willingness to address key issues and dysfunctions for everyone’s mental health.
Just as the family is part of addiction treatment, families can also be enabling, toxic and codependent. One member’s behavior can affect the others, straining ties and creating the kind of stress that gives birth to anxieties, depression, and other addictions.
The decision to tackle addiction treatment with your family may require work on the family itself. Therapy options exist for individual family members to air out their worries and address misconceptions or misunderstandings. Group therapy, including family therapy and addiction meetings, can foster communication skills.
Some families can’t be saved and refuse to work together. In cases like that, it’s important to recognize that the best thing you can do is leave and find another family among your friends and loved ones.
Family Has Its Role Before And After Addiction
Addiction is an incredible personal struggle, but you need others to help you stay true to who you want to be. No matter how often you feel like giving up, having people around you to help convince you to stay sober can be the difference between a long life and an early death.
Just as a family has a role in raising you and giving you direction in life before addiction, family support after addiction never ends.
- Brown GS. 7 Signs It’s Time to Cut (Toxic) Family Ties. ABC News. Published December 28, 2016. Accessed October 15, 2022. https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/signs-time-cut-toxic-family-ties/story?id=27278012
- Tracy K, Wallace SP. Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction. Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2016;7:143-154. doi:10.2147/SAR.S81535
- Mayo Clinic. Family therapy – Mayo Clinic. Published June 19, 2021. Accessed October 15, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/family-therapy/about/pac-20385237
- SAMHSA. Chapter 2 Impact of Substance Abuse on Families. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2004. Accessed October 15, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64258/
Last medically reviewed October 15, 2022
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