The impact of substance abuse is varied and complicated. Family dynamics often contribute to and feed into the disease of addiction, which is why addiction is often called a ‘family disease’–and why it’s so important for the entire family to engage in treatment.
Whether your loved one is new to treatment or has been through multiple recovery programs, your involvement is critical. Family involvement in addiction treatment benefits you as much as it benefits your loved one, so much so that both the National Institute on Drug Abuse and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend it’s incorporated into any substance abuse treatment program.
1. It improves recovery outcomes.
Lasting recovery requires a strong support system, and support starts with family. Family involvement throughout the entire continuum of care helps everyone feel more comfortable and strengthens the loved one’s motivation and commitment to change, both initially and over time. Family participation is critical during every stage of recovery, but it proves especially beneficial during intervention, when their presence is a testament to their level of commitment.
2. Addiction affects everyone. Even you.
The amount of time you’ve spent worrying about your loved one and trying to control their behavior has had an immense impact on your physical and emotional well-being. You’ve neglected your needs while your loved one was in the throes of substance abuse, and now you have the time to reflect on how you’ve been affected and can begin to heal.
3. You’ll learn how to communicate.
Family dynamics already tend to skew on the dysfunctional side, but addiction and confusion surrounding addiction can create additional roadblocks. Openly discussing your thoughts and feelings is the only way to experience healing, which isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do if you’ve spent the last few years walking on eggshells or avoiding certain conversations in an effort not to make matters worse.
Recovery is a journey, and treatment is just one part of it. Families need to understand how to be supportive of their loved ones in the long-term in ways that don’t involve enabling, codependency or other unhealthy, negative behaviors.
Family therapy offers a safe, structured environment for family members to talk about how they’ve been affected and how their role plays into family dynamics and the process of addiction. Outside of the treatment setting, conversations like these can quickly escalate, but under the guidance of a trained and licensed therapist, they’re productive.
4. You can let go.
Months or years of constant worry, pain and guilt take a toll. Some may deal with extreme guilt that stems from feeling personally responsible for their loved one’s addiction or having been blamed for it. By getting involved in your loved one’s treatment, you can gain freedom from the overwhelming feelings of guilt, pain and distress and start to forgive yourself.
But blocking out this important dialogue can breed even more resentment, guilt, anger or anxiety. Family therapy offers a structured, supportive environment where you can discuss your pain and reconcile.
5. You can help prevent relapse.
Lack of understanding surrounding addiction, what your loved one is going through and the unhealthy behaviors you need to avoid can put you in a position that threatens your loved one’s sobriety. By getting involved with your loved one’s treatment, you’ll learn how recognize relapse triggers and warning signs, respond correctly to your loved one’s negative behaviors, and intervene when necessary.
View the original article: