Recovering from addiction is hard for everybody, including addicts and their families. Unfortunately, many families of addicts feel unsupported or left out of the conversation as they attempt to provide their loved ones with emotional and financial assistance. Yet, it’s still important to support families of addicts throughout the recovery journey.
To that end, let’s explore techniques for nurturing resilience and rebuilding relationships, which will improve complete families over time.
Understanding the Impact of Addiction on Families
Addiction never affects just one person. When a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, their close friends and family members also feel the ramifications of their choices.
Family members, such as spouses, siblings, parents, and children, feel emotionally harmed by addictive – sometimes abusive – behaviors,1 especially if they are taken advantage of by the addict. Family members may encounter social harm, as well. A parent may feel the need to excuse their child’s behavior in their social circles, for instance, leading them to become ostracized because they feel loyalty to their loved one.
Financial difficulties are also common. Many addicts take advantage of the financial resources of their family members, leaving them in dire straits in some circumstances. Then there are kids – children may be even more adversely affected by addictive behaviors from a loved one. 2
Many of these pressures manifest as negative feelings like anger, guilt, and anxiety. Many family members of addicts feel increased guilt just for feeling these things, although they are normal. The families of addicts must practice self-care both before and throughout the recovery process.
Nurturing Resilience: Strategies for Families
Nurturing resilience means undertaking practical strategies and adopting a mindset to allow oneself to withstand all the challenges ahead as a loved one recovers from addiction. Families can only provide the necessary support to their loved ones if they’re proverbial rocks, able to weather any storm.
The best means of nurturing resilience for families include:
- Encouraging open and honest communication between family members. Family members should feel like they can say anything to each other, even if they have to express a negative emotion about an addict for their behavior. This communicative environment should be nonjudgmental at all costs.
- Participating in stress-reducing activities and hobbies together. This is a great way to ensure that family members bond together and feel united in their efforts to support their recovering loved one(s)
- Family members can also seek out individual or group therapy or counseling sessions. This may enable struggling family members to tackle typical emotions and withstand future challenges without withdrawing the support of a loved one.
Rebuilding Relationships: Restoring Trust and Connection
Addiction often leads to broken trust and splintered familial connections. But trust must be rebuilt between family members and recovering addicts (both for the addicts and for family members). Without trust, a family can’t truly be united or feel bonded.
But it often takes time to restore trust that has been broken, especially if trust has been broken more than once. The person recovering from addiction must respect the boundaries set by family members who need time before they can trust them again.
Family members, in turn, must practice setting and keeping boundaries. For example, if an addicted loved one has harmed you by stealing money from you, telling them you won’t leave them alone with your purse or wallet is appropriate. They should understand and respect this choice, and both parties should communicate frankly but respectfully with each other.
In the long run, family members may seek counseling or therapy to practice forgiveness and understanding. Everyone in a family struggling with addiction must forgive each other and open their hearts again. This helps rebuild relationships and provides strong social support, which many recovering addicts need to stay on their recovery journeys.
No matter how bad things get, remember that you aren’t alone. Many families have struggled with addiction; through time, patience, and commitment, they’ve rebuilt those familial bonds to become stronger.
Professional Support for Families of Addicts and Additional Resources
Although you can do a lot by yourself, seeking professional help is never shameful. Addiction counselors and therapists are specially trained to provide support for families of addicts and support for addicts themselves.
For example, there are support groups and community resources that are tailored to family members of addicts. A support group, for instance, might be filled with the parents, siblings, or spouses of addicts, who can share their feelings and commiserate about collective or everyday challenges. No one knows better what you’re going through than someone in the same situation.
Clear Life Recovery’s Family Addiction Therapy is another good example. Family counseling here teaches everyone in an affected family how to communicate effectively and function despite the challenges of addiction recovery. Patients get direct insight into how their actions impact others. Additionally, they gain the tools they need to change their behaviors and work with their family members to become better people and avoid making the same mistakes.
Affected family members may benefit from behavioral contracting and contingency management counseling techniques. Family members will learn about codependency and how to practice healthy communication styles and habits, which may inadvertently drive an addicted individual to feel the need to relapse or turn elsewhere.
In the long run, family therapy helps to reduce or solve long-standing conflicts, helping bring family members together. If you or a loved one are struggling with the behavior of an addicted family member, family therapy could be just what you need to nurture resilience and regain a sense of control over your life.
Get the Help You Need with Clear Life Recovery
You are never alone in the addiction recovery journey. Whether you or a family member is struggling with addiction, Clear Life Recovery can help. Our knowledgeable specialists and therapists can support you and your entire family when you contact us today.