Is someone in your family struggling with addiction? You may want to help, but perhaps you don’t know how. Meanwhile, it is likely that their addiction is affecting you and your family. And not just in the ways that you already see clearly. A family member’s addiction can impact you and your family in subtle ways that you don’t realize. Many people become so focused on trying to help an addicted family member, they fail to look out for themselves. Anger, shame, embarrassment, resentment, and a host of other emotions complicate our thinking about addiction in our own families. It can be hard to recognize, let alone break, bad habits of thought and action. But there is hope. Many other families have struggled and now triumph over addiction, one day at a time. Here are six tips for families coping with addiction
Family support is a crucial part of successful recovery from addiction. Read on to learn how you can support your loved one in their effort to recover from addiction and take care of yourself at the same time.
Families Coping with Addiction: Get Support
Good news: you don’t have to go it alone. Millions of other families are going through similar struggles. Al-anon is a free support group for people with an alcoholic family member, and there are similar groups for other addictions. Some addiction treatment programs may offer support groups for families as well. You can talk about your problems and your feelings without fear of judgment. Other families will share their stories, and you will realize it is not just you. Many have come before, many will follow, and right now, many are setting out to successfully support someone they care about on the road to recovery. You are not alone.
Learn About Addiction
Addiction is complicated. Sometimes our first instincts about how to react to a situation are not the best for fighting this multi-headed hydra. A basic understanding how addiction works in the brain from a chemical perspective will help you realize: addiction is a disease, not a failing of character. Years of experience and research about what works and what doesn’t for treating addiction can set you on the right course. Understanding the habits of thought, denial, justification, and evasion that are common among addicts will help you communicate with the addicted person in a way that they cannot avoid hearing. At the same time, you will learn to make your communication constructive and avoid tripping triggers that drive the addict to their unhealthy refuge. You can learn about shame and why to avoid it here.
…And Learn About Yourself & Your Family: Get Therapy
It is easy to find information on addiction and build general knowledge. That’s a painless process that will bring relief, as you learn not to feel ashamed about a disease. Family therapy will bring relief too, but it is not necessarily so painless. Often, the families of addicts have internal issues that they need to recognize and address in order to provide a supportive and healthy environment for the addict to recover. There may be a history of trauma or other addicts in the family. Cutting through the denial and recognizing all this can be uncomfortable. Emotions surrounding addiction are unpleasant and will often be repressed. Once again, allowing yourself to see the t
ruth can be painful.
But you will take on this challenge knowing that thinking and feeling openly and honestly about the issues in your family is the best way to help the person you love beat addiction. And you will feel better too when you summon the courage to take an honest look at what is going on and allow your feelings to arise. Letting them out will be intense, but it is far better than keeping them bottled up inside. It will not be easy, but as hard as it is, it will be invaluable. This is one of the most important things you can do to support your loved one’s recovery. Seasons Bali has a family therapy program to support our in-patient addiction recovery and rehab programs.
You will probably learn about co-dependency in its most subtle forms in family therapy. In short, co-dependence describes a relationship where a “caretaker” enables an addict, often harming themselves with the sacrifices they make. At the same time, the caretaker harms the addict by shielding them from consequences, postponing their realization that they need to change. Addiction will continue to take its toll until the caretaker learns to stop “protecting” the addict from the consequences that would motivate them to get in recovery. You can learn more about co-dependency here.
Sometimes setting a good example is not the most important thing, it’s the only thing. A lot of behaviors are learned and copied from the people around you. If you are like the close relatives of most addicts, their situation is probably causing you quite a bit of stress and unhappiness. You can combat this and lift your mood by learning to identify things to be grateful for and focusing on them. Your addicted family member will learn to concentrate methodically on building gratitude to stave off the demons of addiction. It’s a technique that can benefit anyone. You can learn more about the importance of gratitude for recovery here.
Take it easy on yourself, and the person in your family struggling with addiction. When they resolve to make a change, understand that they can’t become a different person overnight. Habits of thought, emotion, and action take time to break and time to build. They will stumble. So will you. You will learn what to do and what not to do, and then you will screw up, and go back to your old ways. Fortunately, you will know what to do in that situation. Acknowledge the mistake and the consequences, make amends, forgive yourself and focus on doing better next time. Just keep up the honest effort and encourage your loved one to do the same.
Get Support For Your Family
Seasons Bali offers support for families struggling with addiction. Our recovery and rehab programs for all types of addictions include an optional week of education, family and individual therapy. We offer flexible options for family members who are not able to attend family week in person. You can read more about our support program for families of addicts here.
If someone you care about has a problem with drugs or alcohol or any other form of addiction, talk to someone who understands. We are here to help. Call one of our experts today on (toll-free Australia) 1800 288 348 +61 398045757 or email us at [email protected] and we will call you.