Addiction can turn a person we love into someone unrecognizable. Addicts say and do things that are hurtful to family members, affecting the entire dynamic of the family unit. In addition to the emotional pain and erosion of trust caused by addiction, financial or legal problems may also result. However, recovery is possible for the addicted person and the family and with support, the odds of recovery increase.
Just as addiction affects the entire family, successful recovery is a whole family process. Family support ranges from providing encouragement to a willingness to adapt the household to a safe environment for the recovering addict. This means creating a healthy environment that is both free of addictive substances and one that is as stress-free as possible. Addiction is a chronic disease, so addiction recovery becomes a life-long process. Ongoing family support plays a crucial role in long-term recovery.
A study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse noted that “findings suggest that family support in the intervention process, enhanced by psycho-education, contributes to a higher rate of recovery success among addicts.” It is often action taken by the family that gets the recovery process started.
A family intervention can guide a loved one to a recovery program
It can be difficult for addicts to recognize when they have reached the point where their substance abuse has become a serious problem. They may refuse or be in denial about how severely their drug or alcohol use has impacted those around them. They may scoff at the idea that they need help. An intervention may be the catalyst for acceptance of the problem, while providing a plan for action.
Family or friends of the addict may initiate the intervention process. The process is often facilitated by a clergy member, an addiction specialist, such as an alcohol or drug counselor, or by a professional interventionist. A certified interventionist has extensive training as an addiction and intervention specialist.
What does an intervention plan entail?
- Pinpoint a time when loved one will be sober
- Decide who should participate in intervention
- Write out and discuss what each person will say and what to do if loved one refuses treatment
- Have a clearly defined treatment plan in place
- Calmly give specific examples of how your loved one’s addictive behavior has impacted family
members, friends, and others
- Request that he or she agrees to treatment
- Describe steps and goals of treatment plan
- Reassure that family believes recovery is possible, and they will support throughout
- Family counselling throughout the process is recommended
How family can help throughout the recovery journey
NAADC, an association of addiction professionals, states, “Recovery is supported through relationship and social networks. An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person’s ability to recover; who offer hope, support and encouragement; and who also suggest strategies and resources for change.”
There are many ways family members can offer help to their loved one in recovery. From practical assistance with medication management, the willingness to explore new family activities to diligent maintenance of a healthy home, family is an invaluable asset to a person in recovery.
Ways family can offer support:
- Participate in family counseling and support groups like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon and encourage children to attend Alateen
- Become educated about addiction
- Help keep loved one on track with medications and doctor visits
- Meet with treatment team to be informed of progress, concerns or other issues
- Remain committed to a drug and alcohol-free home environment
- Help loved one stay away from people, places or situations that have triggered past addictive behavior
- Encourage loved one to commit long-term to regular counseling, and/or attendance at a 12-step program or other support program
- Be open to developing new social connections with those who abstain from alcohol and drugs
- Explore drug and alcohol-free activities you and your loved ones can do together
How does attending Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, or Alateen help your loved one in recovery?
Programs like Al-Anon, for families and friends of alcoholics, and Nar-Anon, for families and friends of drug addicts, are free support groups. Alateen is specifically designed to help young family members understand and cope with addiction of a family member. These groups provide valuable education, support and encouragement to those impacted by a loved one’s addiction. The more families and friends understand about addiction, the more they understand why recovery is a lifelong process, and how important their role is in the process.
These support groups not only help families and friends to understand more about the disease of addiction, but also offer valuable emotional support to the group participants. Members of these groups have all been negatively affected by addiction and have a unique empathy and ability to relate to and support one another.
The support and education offered by groups like Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Alateen and others may also help families identify cycles of enabling and codependency that may have been a part of the family dynamic, and ways to break those cycles.
Ways a support network can help those in recovery
A support network does not solely consist of family members. It can also include friends, clergy, support group members, sponsors, counselors, health care professionals and others. Each member of a support network plays an important role in recovery success.
- Maintain their own recovery and healthy lifestyle, through meetings, family groups, counseling or spiritual path
- Support with positive energy, including optimism, patience and encouragement
- Introduce to new hobbies and activities or reintroduce to previously enjoyed activities
- Encourage healthy habits and lifestyle, such as exercise, nutrition, meditation, yoga and journaling
- Be available any time, whether just to listen or to respond to a call of trouble
Turning Point of Tampa supports families through the recovery process
At Turning Point of Tampa, we have seen how vital family support is to recovery. We are committed to providing resources to family members to give them the tools they need to help their loved one, other family members and themselves to heal. Our weekly family support group is free of charge to any family member of a current or former client. This ongoing support is available to assist in the family member’s personal recovery journey.
Family issues are also addressed during our Intensive Outpatient Program. Clients can invite family members to attend one of their three nights of treatment, to participate in the education/process therapy group. This eight-week program covers such topics as Relapse Prevention, Family Dynamics, Dual Diagnosis and Codependency. Turning Point of Tampa has found that including the family in the therapeutic process strengthens our clients’ recovery.
Turning Point of Tampa’s goal is to always provide a safe environment and a solid foundation in 12-Step recovery, in tandem with quality individual therapy and groups. We have been offering Licensed Residential Treatment for Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987. If you need help or know someone who does, please contact our admissions department at 813-882-3003, 800-397-3006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.