If you have a loved one that is suffering from addiction, then you know that they are not the only ones who suffer. Addiction affects family and friends just as much as the addict. The person who is struggling with addiction must have the support of loved ones if they want their recovery to be successful. Recovery will be a life long commitment, and their disease will never fully be cured.
As a family member or friend, your role will be crucial in helping your loved one focus on their health and healing. Research shows that a strong bond between the addict and his/her family is one of the most significant characteristics of recovery. It supports the idea that a person struggling with substance abuse is not alone and can depend on others to help through the difficult times that will come.
What Families Can Offer:
- Sense of Respect: Adicts often deal with feelings of guilt, shame, weakness, and even devastating emotional states of confusion, depression, and anxiety. The support of a community who won’t judge or accuse the user will help ease this despair and offer hope for a better future.
- Positive Regard: One of the universal factors for successful results in psychotherapy is the expression of positive esteem. A positive reaction from family and friends enforces the idea that an addict is still loved and cared for by the people they had previously hurt.
- Patience: An addict and their loved ones are playing the long game. It will be a long, tough journey with many obstacles to overcome, and there will be setbacks. By offering patience and understanding the family can give the addict a safe place to heal and recover.
What Not to Do
The last thing a family wants is to make things worse for the addict. There can be feelings of anger and resentment towards the person who has caused grief and heartache through their addiction. However, what matters more than those feelings is the recovery of the addict. It is more than likely that the person is aware of the damage they have caused and are already dealing with guilt and self-hatred. Don’t make their recovery harder by placing blame and anger at their feet.
At the same time, don’t become so entangled in their recovery that they can’t be independent. Healing requires a balance between close community support and independence. An addict who is going through the rehab process will need to be on their own eventually and learn to rely on themselves. And they cannot enter back into the real world if they are always dependent on others. The best thing that a family and loved ones can do is participate in family therapy.
The healing process requires closure, and that comes with regaining trust within the family. Talking in a safe environment with a trained counselor to guide the discussion and work through the issues within the family is a vital step for the addict.
Watching a loved one go through addiction and then later through the recovery process can be one of the hardest things a family could ever go through. However, by offering their love and support, they are giving the addict hope of better things to come.