From the outside looking in, addiction can appear to be a solo struggle. However, it’s very much a situation that involves the family and loved ones, too.
Recognizing signs of addiction in a loved one can be a painful experience. It’s easier to look past the symptoms of a bigger problem than deal with them head-on. Often, being the family member of an addict can be a challenging role to accept.
Drug addiction and family dynamics can get complicated quickly. Knowing there is plenty of support for families of drug addicts can make a huge difference in the acceptance process. It may even be the motivation needed for family involvement in addiction treatment, which can increase the chances of a successful recovery.
How Does Addiction Affect Families?
Addiction is anything but simple. In fact, the complexity of the condition can lead many families to hold onto negative connotations and stigmas about their loved one’s situation. That can be true even when your loved one has taken steps toward treatment or recovery.
Whether the issue at hand is drugs or alcohol, family involvement in addiction treatment is vital. Addiction has a way of tearing at the fibers of the family unit. This makes both therapy and general help for family members of drug addicts essential. Addiction is a disease that tends to affect every member of a family in some way.
In many cases, families with a loved one struggling with substance abuse can rapidly turn towards dysfunction. It’s not uncommon for unhealthy coping mechanisms to come into play.
This can look different in every family. In some family units, dysfunction may stem from simply ignoring the problem at hand. Instead of dealing with a loved one’s addiction, some families choose to deny the problem exists at all.
On the other end of the dysfunctional spectrum, families may cope with a loved one’s addiction by trying to take total control of the situation themselves. Outside of professional treatment options, family members may try to track everything an addict does, and in this way, stop the problem.
Both scenarios prove futile in the end. Families that ignore addiction end up alienating a family member who is struggling with a disease.
Families that try to handle it all on their own can effectively build stress and push their struggling loved one in the wrong direction. Either way, an environment of anger and resentment quickly grows out of these situations.
Family dynamics are always unique. However, the one constant is (or should be) unity. Households must participate in addiction treatment alongside their loved ones for the best recovery success.
There is a long list of family resources, programs, and educational tools out there that give families the foundation they need to support a loved one through the treatment and recovery process. These tools are also helpful in strengthening the family unit throughout a difficult time.
Before families can innately understand their role in addiction treatment, it’s essential to understand what addiction really is. Understanding can remove the element of the personal offense from the situation that so many family members take on. It can instead help family members to focus on treatment as a valid solution.
It’s far too common for family members to perceive addiction as a craving that a loved one tries to fight. In reality, addiction is a terrible disease that requires specialized treatment and follow-up care.
Addiction plays a detrimental role in how the brain perceives motivation. It can also affect memory and warp an individual’s sense of what is rewarding.
Some family members try a tough-love approach to dealing with a loved one’s addiction. They are under the impression that a person with an addiction can leave it behind if they just try hard enough. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Addiction, whether it revolves around medications, drugs, or alcohol, is an all-consuming disease. It causes the addict to overlook healthy living standards and exclusively gear their lives toward acquiring and using their substance of choice.
Recognizing Different Types of Addiction
Addiction is always a disease, but it can manifest in various ways. Families that understand this concept generally have an easier time participating in specialized treatment options as a group.
Typically, addiction falls into two primary categories, which include 1) substance addiction and 2) behavioral addiction. Most families will think of substance addiction when the term gets mentioned, but behavioral addiction is just as detrimental and influential.
Substance addiction can revolve around nicotine, alcohol, drugs, inhalants, or prescription medications, just to name a few. Behavioral addictions could focus on anything from sex and media consumption to gambling and even shopping.
Improving Chances of Recovery Success Through Family Involvement
In the world of addiction treatment and recovery, family plays an important role. It’s long been established that addicts with a supportive and involved family see higher chances of successful long-term recovery.
For the addict receiving treatment, an involved family equates to an informed family. That benefits the addict in treatment tremendously.
A family educated on addiction can not only support and encourage their loved one through recovery, but they can pinpoint potential relapse triggers in their loved one. They can also provide a positive environment for an addict in treatment to thrive beyond program parameters.
Benefits of Family Involvement in Addiction Treatment
When a family chooses to be involved in the treatment process, it benefits the family unit’s emotional well-being. Options like family therapy create a safe space for individuals to air resentments and negative emotions without putting them on the addict during the treatment process.
Family therapy also allows a third party to work as a mediator as family members work through complex and challenging trust issues. Parents and siblings can learn a lot about addiction and its powerful effects on each family member through family therapy.
Being involved in the addiction treatment process as a family also allows for more understanding of how the process works and what to expect post-treatment. It can provide tools for family members who want to motivate addicts in treatment in a healthy and productive way.
Open and honest conversations throughout the treatment process allow family members to enjoy transparent communication. That can make facing the struggle of addiction and treatment follow-up that much more successful and manageable.
Where to Begin
Agreeing as a family that you want to be involved in your loved one’s treatment process is one thing. Knowing where to begin is another.
There are a variety of steps that families can take initially, depending on their comfort level. Some families start by simply touring the treatment facility with the addict in question.
A simple tour gives everyone a chance to ask questions of on-site staff. Taking time to see the facility and ask questions allows family members to establish what support is truly needed and allowed.
For some families, the act of sending letters, care packages, and cards regularly to a loved one in treatment can work wonders. It’s a small yet positive step in letting that person know they have a reliable supply of support and love.
Beyond direct support to the family member struggling with addiction, committing to finding family support is vital. For some families, this means joining local support groups.
Other families sign up for family programs and classes. Groups like Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and Parents of Addicted Loved Ones provide a place to gather with those going through similar situations. There are also options for families to participate in residential and outpatient treatment sessions with addicts in tandem.
Individual therapy is often recommended for family members beyond family therapy sessions. That gives everyone a chance to analyze their own coping skills and share personal stories outside of a group setting.
Removing the Stigma Through Treatment Involvement
The power of addiction can rock even a family that considers itself close and strong. But for all of the detrimental effects addiction can have, a supportive family treatment plan is capable of seeing a full recovery come into effect.
In many ways, families that participate in the treatment process are actively working to break the stigma surrounding addiction. The more understanding families can gain around addiction as a disease, the better. That moves thoughts away from the false assumption that addiction is a personal failure.
Breaking down addiction stigmas has a far-reaching and positive effect. Being a part of the treatment process gives families a platform to encourage their loved one and support others in similar situations. The more accurate information gets shared on addiction, the more supportive recovery efforts can be. This only leads to more successful outcomes.
Reach Out Today
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, the Indiana Center for Recovery team is here to help. We offer a variety of treatment programs for addiction and the families of addicts as well.
Our comprehensive recovery center and programs are staffed with compassionate and invested professionals who help addicts take back the life they deserve. We’re just as committed to assisting families in understanding addiction and how to navigate its effects.
Reach out today to learn more about our many services and programs. We’re waiting to answer your call.