Addiction Recovery - Alumni - Relationships in Recovery

Recovering When Your Family Does Not Support Your Sober Journey

Recovering When Your Family Does Not Support Your Sober Journey

Sometimes loved ones aren't supportive of your recovery. Find constructive ways to talk with them about substance addiction and your needs.

Friends and family that don't offer support during your recovery can challenge your resolve. While in substance addiction treatment, you likely learned the importance of having a solid support system. Ideally, this includes your close friends and family, but that isn't always the case.

People who don't provide support, blame you for your substance addiction disorder (SUD) or make hurtful remarks are challenging to be around. When you have loved ones that won't or don't support your recovery, you can take steps to protect yourself from their negativity.

Not Everyone Will Understand

Recognizing that there will be people who don't understand substance addiction or the recovery process is essential for your relationship with them. Don't take their silence or negative behavior personally.

They may simply be in the dark about how addiction and its recovery process works. Their feelings about substance addiction or long-held beliefs can influence their treatment of you or their behavior. Where or how a person grew up can impact how they behave, and some may hold onto stigmas related to alcohol or drug addiction. Loved ones may even have been impacted negatively by another person with SUD.

What can you do? Maybe your friends or family need ways to learn about substance addiction. For example, ask if they'll consider family or group counseling. Another option is to guide them to resources, local community centers, or support groups like Al-Anon.

Be Generous With Yourself

If your family is not providing you with the support you need, it can be difficult, but it's not the end of the world. If this is the case, you must find another means of getting support and accountability. Before you can do that, though, you must find the resolve within yourself to do so and stay on the right path.

An excellent way to find support is to look within yourself. Find ways to boost your self-confidence and believe in yourself. Be aware of how you talk to yourself and show yourself kindness and gratitude even if you make a mistake. It's easy to become entangled in negative thoughts. If you don't have the natural support system of friends and family, you must be gentle with yourself as you figure out how to build a new support network.

The Benefits Of Self-Care

Self-care is a great way to take care of yourself and prepare your heart and mind to find outside help. Ask yourself what healthy activities improve your mood. A few ideas are:

  • A bath: Baths can be relaxing and give you some alone time.

  • Reading: Reading takes you into a different world. Immerse yourself in a good book and de-stress.

  • Naps: Sometimes, your mind and body need a break to recharge.

  • Physical activity: Exercise boosts your dopamine (your body's natural feel-good chemicals).

Self-care takes the focus off of those who are unsupportive and places your mental and physical well-being into your own hands. Some of your self-care routines can also act as bridges to conversations. Activities that are flexible and can include more than one person are opportunities to start a conversation. Sometimes, people are uncomfortable with face-to-face discussions. Talking while doing something like a puzzle or a yoga routine can create a comfortable, non-judgmental atmosphere.

Conflicted Emotions

A friend or family member may want to be there for you but aren't emotionally or physically at a point where they can. People can have difficulties supporting you if they're going through their own hard times.

For instance, if a friend you thought would support you ghosts you, find out what is going on in their life before you give up on them. They may be dealing with something emotionally taxing and, like you, they need to heal and use their support system.

Let them know you are there for them, and you would like to talk to them when they are ready.

Holding a Difficult Conversation

Telling a loved one about a hard time you're going through or that you need their support takes courage and some forethought. Here are some tips to help you have a smooth conversation:

  • Prepare for the talk: Springing heavy topics on people isn't the best idea. Your loved one may feel attacked and go on the defense. A constructive conversation won't happen if everyone feels aggravated. Instead, ask your loved one to set aside a time and place to talk. A neutral or comfortable spot can put everyone at ease.

  • Eye-level matters: Whether you're sitting or standing, try to maintain equal eye levels. Sitting above or below someone can unbalance the dynamic.

  • Be direct: Talk directly to the person, not over the phone or through a third party.

  • Remain calm: Try to keep your voice relaxed and even. When emotions seep into your voice, the message can be lost.

  • Avoid blame or shame: Blaming or shaming someone can make them put up their walls and stop listening.

  • Don't reduce yourself to negative behaviors: Name-calling, yelling, swearing, or insults never work.

  • Don't interrupt: If the other person has something to say, let them say it. You can't expect them to hear you if you won't listen to them.

  • Be upfront: Be clear about what you want to happen.

  • Actively listen and respond: If you don't understand what your loved one said, ask them to repeat or clarify their statement.

  • Avoid the urge to be "right": Instead, be open to their thoughts and feelings.

Maintaining Your Recovery Requires A Solid Support System

Unfortunately, not everyone in your social network may be willing to be there for you. Loved ones may have a reason they aren't capable of providing support. Assess what is going on in their life, past, or beliefs they hold. Take a personal inventory of your life and how you treat yourself and rely on what you learned in treatment.

The Edge Treatment Center guides you through building healthy relationships through positive conversation. We know a robust support system is crucial to your recovery, and we're here to help you create one. To learn more, call (800) 778-1772.

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Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Addiction Recovery


Relationships in Recovery

February 3, 2022