Addiction to drugs or alcohol is not only damaging to the individual the effects it can also affect friends, family, and loved ones. The behavior of those closest to them can change, and these can be damaging to the addict. In some cases, this can result in them becoming enablers, distancing themselves from the addict or being in denial about the illness of a loved one.
The above highlights the need for family to be involved in the recovery process by learning more about addiction and being able to recognize their own damaging behaviors and what they can do to help their loved ones to recover from their addiction.
Many studies have shown that those who have a strong social support network are less likely to relapse after recovery. Those with less support quite often find themselves falling back into old behaviors and habits. Family involvement throughout treatment and recovery can help the whole family to find out what contributes to substance abuse triggers and what needs to be put in place for these behaviors to change.
Some of the approaches of family therapy include learning about the treatment and recovery process, attending therapy and group sessions and how to encourage loved ones to continue by reinforcing positive behaviors without judgment.
There are lots of skills and support that families being involved in the recovery process can learn that will help them support their loved one. Crisis intervention and the ability to monitor symptoms that can lead to relapse can be highly beneficial and having established a relationship with the treatment center means that when these are recognized, they are able to step in and advocate on their behalf.
It is hard work for a loved one to overcome their addiction and the family should work just as hard alongside them to let them know that they are not alone in their recovery and they can turn to someone for help and support whenever they feel they are losing their path.
Family involvement should not cease once treatment is complete as it is just the beginning of a long road. Having family support post-treatment will guard against relapse offering encouragement to help the person to stick with their treatment plan, reminding them how to stay on track using the techniques learned in therapy and being optimistic if there are any bumps in the road are just some ways that families can help.
Having the support of a strong family network is a huge factor in recovery from addiction, and its success rate cannot be understated. If a loved one is suffering from addiction do not be afraid to do all you can to help they may not thank you for it at the time and may even lash out irrationally but once they get to the end of their journey they will see that they had the best possible help in the world a supportive and loving family.
Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on March 29th, 2018.