Addiction: How to Heal the Family
Dec 21, 2017
As family members of people in active addiction or early recovery, the path to a healthier life is strewn with hurdles and barriers. Frustration and resentment often fuel anger and fear toward the addicted family member, causing rifts and distrust to grow. How can we help ourselves? How can we continue to support someone when that person has created so much chaos in our lives?
How Do I Help Myself?
The first priority is always helping ourselves. If we cannot create a sense of wellness for ourselves, how can we help someone else meet the same goal? Helping others is much like filling cups from a pitcher of water. Once the pitcher is empty, the cups will no longer have a source of water. Refilling ourselves is the first step in the process of healing. Creating a self-care plan is critical when learning to heal from an addicted family member's behavior. This includes caring for spiritual needs, whether this means going to church or meditation, physical needs, such as healthy eating and exercise, and mental needs, like seeing our own counselor or attending self-help groups.
Part of this recovery as a family member is understanding that the motivation for substance use lies within the addicted person, and is not a product of our own behaviors. Remembering that the addicted family member is responsible for his or her own outcomes is an important piece of familial recovery. When family members cease to enable and stop working harder than the individual is at their own recovery, the member has the opportunity to take responsibility for his or her own actions. Although this is a difficult task to master, allowing the addicted family member to own their behaviors and mistakes will lead to owning his or her successes. Whether in active addiction or in early recovery, maintaining a balance of wellness and self-care while establishing healthy boundaries in the relationship is necessary for the family members impacted by addiction.
How Do I Help My Addicted Family Member?
Witnessing the struggle an addicted family member faces causes a sense of helplessness, and sometimes hopelessness. We can help through a series of mindful reactions to the family member. Creating a sober environment, devoid of triggers for use, will create a safe space for the family member. Avoiding negative or resentful talk toward the individual will reduce anxiety and guilt, which will lead to an increase in self-worth and a greater desire to either initiate or maintain sobriety. As we create healthy boundaries by not enabling the member and help ourselves in this way, we are also helping the addicted family member. Disengaging in enabling behaviors and allowing the addicted member to deal with his or her own consequences will create a better sense of ownership for the individual, which can lead to initiated or sustained recovery. Offering emotional support for the individual is a healthier alternative to financial support. Although healthy boundaries are sometimes difficult to establish, the boundaries will keep all members of the family safer and healthier. In a positive manner, avoiding any negative or blaming comments, suggesting the person seek professional assistance for his or her addiction is beneficial.
Addiction is a family disease, and thus requires family recovery. Although the addicted member is responsible for his or her own behaviors, consequences, and recovery, the family must also react in a healthy way. Caring for ourselves is necessary, and supporting the addicted member emotionally through addiction, early recovery, and sustained recovery is a necessary piece of recovery for the family. For more suggestions, contact us. Remember, seeking our own support and counseling is as beneficial as it is for the addicted member.
Category: Family Therapy