Addiction is a family disease because it affects the entire family mentally, physically, spiritually, and financially. Families almost always end up chasing their tail, trying to help the addicts and keep them alive. Unfortunately, love cannot conquer addiction. Addiction is a disease that needs to progress in order for the active user to be compelled to seek treatment. Families cannot help the addict, let alone save them. Addicts will seek help once they have hit rock bottom, which is an internal state of the desire to break free from their addiction being stronger than the desire to continue using.
When your addicted loved ones enters a drug and alcohol rehab, you will feel relief and ambivalence simultaneously. Though you may be overwhelmed with emotion, do not overreact and develop unrealistic expectations. Just as addiction is a family disease, family recovery is required for treatment of the disease. Showing your loved ones support is the first step to facilitating their and your recovery and can be done in a variety of ways.
Showing Support to Your Recovering Loved One
Attend Family Programs
Many rehabs will have family programs and/or family weekends. Attending these family programs is positive reinforcement for your loved ones because it is showing them that you are supportive of them regardless of what they have done in their active addiction and are encouraging them to get better. These programs will help you and your loved one heal old wounds and move forward into a healthier future. These programs will also educate you and your love done on appropriate interaction in recovery.
Attend Al-Anon or Other Family Support Groups
Taking care of yourself is the best that you can for your loved ones. You cannot take care of others if you are not capable of taking care of yourself. Al-Anon and other support groups are not about helping your loved one; they are about improving and taking care of yourself because you are powerless over your loved one and their disease. You will learn tools (e.g. detachment) through sharing your experience and hearing about the experiences of others who are in the same situation. Going to meetings and working your program is setting a good example for your loved one to go to meetings and work their program when they get out of rehab.
Change Your Addictions, Compulsive Behaviors, and Mental Health issues
You cannot expect your recovering loved one to change if the entire family system does not change. Less prominent addiction, compulsive behaviors, and mental health disorders contribute to the unhealthy family system as much as their addiction. The family not changing their unhealthy ways but expecting the primary addicts to change is a form of hypocrisy. You and your family should work on addressing your addictions (e.g. food, cigarettes, alcohol, etc., etc.), compulsive behaviors (e.g. gambling, sex, co-dependency), and mental health issues (e.g. bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, etc.). Even if not addicted, you and your family should avoid mind-altering, mood-altering substances to encourage your loved ones that it is okay for them to not be able to drink or use other substances and show them that they can have fun without alcohol or drugs.
Be Patient and Realistic
Patience is key to dealing with recovering addicts. Though they may not be actively using, they may still exhibit personality traits of an active addict. A year to a year and a half of working the program is the amount of time it typically takes for a recovering individual to drastically change their thinking and behavior. You should not overwhelm your loved one with stifling expectations because they need to learn how to live sober for them. You should also keep in mind that relapse is a part of recovery, but not a mandatory part of recovery. Many people relapse, and they will need to learn from their relapses. Recovery is a long process that is full of ups and downs, and your loved one needs to take their time.
Genesis House is a rehab center in Lake Worth, Florida that has a family program. Call us today at 800-737-0933