Addiction Recovery - Multimedia - Relationships in Recovery

Supporting Your Family Member Through Addiction Recovery

Addiction is a family disease, and addiction recovery is a family journey. Here's how you and your family can heal through addiction recovery.

Supporting Your Family Member Through Addiction Recovery

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

August 18, 2021

The Edge Treatment Center

We have all heard it before: addiction is a family disease. What does that mean for you and your family once your family member is in early recovery? How do you go forward, protecting your loved one’s addiction recovery while healing from the hurts of their addiction?

Here Are a Few of Our Recommendations:

Acknowledge Your Hurt

Addiction can be very hurtful to family members. While in active addiction your loved one may have lied, deceived, and otherwise manipulated you to hide their disease.

Studies show that family members of addicts often experience greater levels of anxiety and depression and are at greater risk for their own substance use disorders. There is also often a financial toll incurred when supporting someone through their addiction and addiction treatment.

In short, loving an addict is hard, and you must acknowledge and work through the ways their actions affected you. If you feel lingering hurt and betrayal from the things they did and said, it is important to discuss that with your family member. Family therapy may be an important step to acknowledge the way you feel in a safe space.

Make sure you work through your hurt to prevent resentments from derailing your relationship.

Focus on Yourself

If your loved one is in treatment or early recovery, this is the time to redirect your attention inward. Take back your life and focus on the things that used to bring you joy. Establish self-care routines and revisit relationships that have lacked your attention lately.

People with addiction are often told to focus on putting themselves first while early in recovery. The same will be true of your needs. Family members need to undergo their own addiction recovery journey. Use time apart re-learn who you are outside of addiction, and to heal.

Seek Help

We strongly suggest that you seek individual and/or family therapy to work on healing. The negative coping behaviors and dynamics that may have cropped up during your family member’s addiction will not disappear once your family reaches early recovery. Early recovery can also be hard for its own reasons: your family member may not be the person you remember, or you may spend too much energy on anxiety for the future.

Seeking professional help will be helpful not only for you but for your family member as well. Family stresses and unhealthy dynamics can be a trigger for many, and it is important to learn as a family how to interact and communicate in new, healthier ways in the wake of addiction recovery.

Plan for Mistakes

Have a family meeting in which you calmly discuss and agree upon how everyone will react in the event of a relapse. If you have sought help, as suggested above, perhaps have the discussion mediated by a professional.

Agree with your loved one in recovery on a plan of action that seems fair and rational. This can include a plan around finances, access to family resources, and whether a relapse necessitates more treatment or outside help. Discuss relapse prevention and what your loved one envisions their recovery process to look like.

Discuss Family Boundaries

There are conversations that need to be had around how much involvement your family member wants and needs from you in their recovery journey.

Boundaries can include your family member’s triggers, any behavior that may be perceived as controlling, your own relationship with substances/usage around your family member, and the nature of family gatherings going forward.

These conversations can be emotionally fraught and difficult. You may find your conversations to be more vulnerable and fruitful under professional oversight.

Build A New Community

Many families express the sense of isolation and hopelessness that comes along with loving someone with a substance use disorder. Part of that is because addiction is an all-consuming stressor to your family. Another unfortunate truth is that there is quite a bit of social stigma and shame associated with addiction.

Fortunately, there is a world of support for families of addicts. Helpful support groups include Al-AnonNar-Anon, and more. Long-term recovery requires long-term solutions, and among these is leaning on other families that have been where you are and have had similar experiences.

It can be enlightening and validating to share your own experiences and to hear what others have gone through. Connecting with these communities also ensures access to a wide range of resources so that your family can identify what works best for you.

Navigating how best to support your family member through their addiction recovery can be very difficult. We hope these suggestions will help guide you to find the solutions best suited for you.

We would love to hear what has worked for you and your family. Please let us know in the comments.

If you and your family find yourselves in need of help with addiction treatment, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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