Advice for Families in Addiction Recovery

Addiction is a family disease. It does not just impact one individual – everyone involved feels the pain, sadness and stress that the disease creates. Addiction can be treated and recovery is possible, but many families are not ready for the completely new set of emotional pains that will result from the experience. So you are living with someone who is in recovery.  That sentence sounds so simple, but it is packed with all kinds of pretense.  While it is a good thing that your loved one is getting the help that he or she needs, it can mean very difficult times for families in addiction recovery.  For the health of your entire family, there are a few things that you can do to make coping with this difficult situation a little bit easier on all of you.

Learn to Reduce Stress

Families in addiction recovery can mean very stressful times for you and any of your other family members.  All of this built up stress surrounding the person in recovery can lead him or her back into the behavior that is the reason for the recovery in the first place.  When you learn to alleviate some of your stress that is one less thing for the whole family to contend with.  You can certainly make efforts to reduce your stress on your own. Start by making some time for yourself to do with as you wish. For example, making sure that you get your daily exercise in is a great stress reducer that the whole family can participate in together, or individually.  Deep breathing or meditation is another great way to prevent stress from piling up.

It is possible that the stress caused by your loved one going through recovery may be too big for your family to address on your own.  It may be necessary for you to see a family counselor who can help you all deal with your stresses in different ways. Family therapy can improve communication, which will ultimately help alleviate the stress and anxiety created by someone you love going through a very important and exhausting experience in their lives.

Find Support Groups

Getting some support for yourself can go a long way to reducing stress and helping your whole family through this difficult time.  The family counselor mentioned above might be a good option.  Families in addiction recovery don’t necessarily have to attend therapy as a group. In fact, it might also be a good idea to find some help that specifically addresses the situation of the person who needs the help.  If it is your partner who is in recovery, you may want to seek out support groups for partners of addicts and children of addicts. If it is your child who is in recovery, you may want to find support groups for parents of addicts.  There are many, many different kinds of groups out there who are comprised of people just like you who know what you are going through and can help you make peace with it all.  Being able to sit and talk with other people who are going through the same trying experience will help each and every member of the family cope with, and stay supportive through the recovery process.

Get Informed and Stay Involved

You and the rest of the family will need to be involved in the treatment of the person who is in recovery.  As his or her primary support system, you can be called upon to be of use at any time.  The best thing that you can do is to get all of the information you can about the recovery of your loved one.  You should read about others who have been through this kind of treatment.  You should talk to the treatment team of your loved one to find out anything that you can be doing to get involved and be helpful in recovery.  Many treatment programs offer family education on how addictions work, handling stress, signs of relapse, and anything else that will be helpful for you to know as the family of a recovering addict.

Stay Supportive and Encourage Sobriety

One of the most important things that you and your family can do for the recovering addict in your life and for yourselves is to maintain sobriety.  It is next to impossible for someone living in a situation where drugs and alcohol are present to maintain sobriety and continue with a recovery program.  The availability is too much of a temptation for someone who is struggling with addiction. Ideally, your home should be free from alcohol and drugs.  Your entire family should remain committed to emptying the house of illicit substances.  It is likely that this will require a certain amount of adjustment if you are a family who has always kept some alcohol in the house or you have always kept some medications around.  If you have items that you do not wish to part with but would be a temptation to your loved one in recovery, give the items to a trusted person who does not live with you or keep the items in an off-site storage locker.

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