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The Role of Family In Addiction Recovery; Tips to support a loved one’s success in long term recovery.

Addiction does not discriminate based on race, socioeconomic status, age, religious beliefs, education, gender identity or sexual orientation. Statistics of deaths due to overdose and complications related to drug and alcohol addiction are increasing every day. It has been proven that addiction is a family disease. Unknowingly, families of alcoholics and addicts can play a critical part in addiction, and equally can play a massive part in the success of long term recovery.  Families can struggle because they are usually not involved in any formal treatment and they may possess unrealistic expectations of their loved one’s recovery or deny their own part in the addiction. 

Here at Collective Recovery, we understand the role that the family takes in supporting their loved one’s long term recovery success. It’s critical that we address how the family can support successful recovery. For those who have not personally suffered with addiction, it can be difficult to understand how to aid and assist in a loved one’s recovery process.There are times where family may feel powerless to help, however there are practical ways you can help right now. If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, continue to read our top tips to aid in your loved one’s recovery process.

Encourage total abstinence from alcohol and other drugs.  People with long term addiction issues are highly sensitive to the effects of drugs and alcohol. Even small amounts of substances can trigger a full blown relapse. The nature of addiction is that addicts cannot successfully control their intake of drugs and alcohol, which makes “controlled” use almost impossible. Staying away from all mind altering substances is the safest choice when helping a loved one recover from substance abuse issues.

You can support total abstinence in the following ways:

  • Express your belief that abstinence is the key to recovery
  • Help your loved one avoid exposure to other’s drug or alcohol use, even if others can moderate their usage 
  • Help find sober recreational activities

Create a plan for managing stress. Stress is inevitable in life, and there is no way to avoid all stress. Everyday life can be stressful in early recovery and there can be major stressors like moving, starting a new job, handling an illness, unexpected loss, or personal relationship conflicts.  Relapse has been known to happen due to stressors, which is why it’s critical to help your loved one cope with stress. 

You can support helping the addict manage stressful situations by:

  • Being emotionally available to listen and help your loved one process their stress
  • Encourage your loved one to seek the support of a licensed therapist that can help provide some coping solutions
  • Remind your loved one of the tools they have in recovery to manage stress
  • Reduce any family tension if at all possible by not involving the addict immediately in the family’s stress

Find support for yourself.  It’s imperative that in order to maintain a loving, supportive role in the addict’s life, you need to find ways to support yourself as well. If you don’t support yourself first, you’ll have nothing to give.  There can be some unresolved negative feelings that arise when the addict gets sober, that can be processed with the help of your own support system. 

You can support yourself by:

  • Find a therapist who specializes in addiction recovery who can help you create a plan of action for the family to follow
  • Start and work with a twelve step support group like Alanon, Ala-Teen, Codependents Anonymous
  • Find safe friends and family members who can listen and support you through the feelings that will arise during the loved one’s recovery process

Know and discuss the signs of relapse. Addiction relapse is episodic in nature, which  means that when an episode of relapse occurs, it can not only disrupt the addict’s recovery process, but the entire family.  If you’ve never experienced addiction, knowing the signs of relapse can be difficult. There might be “red flags”, or “warning signs” long before an addict decides to try to go back to using just one more time. Know the early warning signs and have a plan for addressing them if they appear. The signs of relapse can vary from individual to individual, so it is critical to long term recovery success that you know your loved ones warning signs. Awareness of “red flags” may take some care and thought and need to be honestly discussed with the addict. 

Here are some ways you can understand the signs of relapse and or manage the severity of any episode:

  • Honestly discuss with the addict the warning signs of relapse
  • Notice extreme changes in the addict’s behavior
  • Develop a family plan in advance, together with the addict, for responding to the signs of relapse or actual relapse. 
  • Involve treatment providers in making a relapse prevention program 

Encourage your loved one to form a recovery support system outside of the family. The most important support you can give an addict is to encourage them to form a social support group of those who are in recovery or are intimately familiar with the recovery process. Sometimes the best help for the addict or alcoholic comes from another person who’s walked a mile in the same shoes. The family can be a great support, however it can be difficult for those who haven’t struggled with addiction to understand the day to day thoughts and feelings of the addict.  

You can support the addict in forming a recovery support system by:

  • Encouraging the attendance of recovery meetings. There are thousands of online recovery meetings. With today’s technology it gives the addict the opportunity to participate in virtual meetings almost any time
  • Encourage sober recreational activities like hiking, sober softball, sober volleyball, or anything else that drinking or drugs would not be present
  • Encourage the attendance of an intensive outpatient program that can guide the addict through the recovery process and help build meaningful relationships with those in the same group program. We have a fantastic program here at Collective – click here for your free benefits review
  • Encourage the addict or alcoholic to live in a sober living environment in the first 90-180 days of recovery

Every person with addiction is capable of living a meaningful, rewarding life and family members can support their loved one every step of the way. The family’s support can make or break the addict’s progress in long term recovery. Such support can be powerful and fuel the addict’s desire and determination to stay sober. Above all, family members play a purposeful role in helping the loved one keep hope alive and realize that recovery from addiction is possible. 

Here at Collective Recovery, we believe in providing support for the addict and the family, which is why we offer a free benefits review of our signature outpatient treatment program. We’ve guided many addicts and loved ones to successful long term recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, please reach out to us at 1-866-UTAH-HOPE or go to www.collectiverecoverycenter.com for a free benefits review. 

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