One thing about an addiction to drugs or alcohol that holds true for everyone is that it does not happen in a vacuum. Addictions affect the family members and friends of the person suffering, too. When someone enters recovery, this does not mean the end of those relationship problems. It means a shift in how everyone deals with each other.
Learning a New Language
Relationships often suffer a great deal when a person is lost in a world of substance use disorders. When it comes to addiction and the family, healing and recovery will involve learning a new way to communicate with each other.
One area that often needs improvement involves people having a fear of broaching certain topics with each other. A person who was often under the influence of drugs or alcohol may have been volatile and unreceptive to certain topics their loved ones brought up.
Family members who grew accustomed to seeing many conversations as potential landmines will need help learning how to communicate with their loved one who is now sober. The person now in recovery will also have to learn what healthy communication sounds like.
Learning some of the basic tenets of communicating in healthy and effective manners comes into play in these situations. Using “I” statements helps people feel less defensive. For example, instead of saying, “You always do this and I hate it”, a person can try saying, “When you do this, I feel…” and then tell them what their reaction feels like.
Family members can try sitting with each other when they are both in a calm place and use mirroring exercises. This involves one person stating something and then the other person repeating it back to them. This helps ensure that what one person has communicated has been understood, leaving no message unheard or misinterpreted.
Living in the Moment Helps Everyone Move Forward
In addressing addiction and the family, healing and recovery can also benefit living in the now. For many, the temptation to focus on events that took place during a person’s addiction proves strong. While everyone in the family needs to understand their responsibility for past words and deeds, it’s equally important to live in the here and now.
The person in recovery may feel a temptation to view themselves negatively. They may often recall things they said or did in the past that cause them shame, which makes it difficult for them to recognize how they are changing in recovery.
Family members may also find it hard to make the transition from focusing on how their loved one used to behave to the changes they exhibit in recovery. Communicating with each other can help alter this dynamic for everyone. Make a point of acknowledging past transgressions but also include everyone’s thoughts on how to leave those in the past. How a person acts and reacts now provides the building blocks for maintaining healthy new relationships.
Using Family Therapy to Achieve Goals
Families who participate in therapy together often reap some rewards that are difficult to come by on their own. Family therapy can include parents, children, siblings, in-laws, and other family members. A spouse or partner can attend these sessions or engage in couples counseling.
A family therapist provides a neutral party that can listen to everyone’s concerns and helps alleviate them. These types of counselors are trained to teach each person to learn how to effectively communicate with each other. They can provide any needed guidance on redefining family roles and establishing boundaries.
An added benefit to family therapy involves the fact that many addictions to drugs and alcohol run in a family. Genetics can play a part in the development of a substance use disorder, as can the family environment.
If someone else in the family deals with addiction, talking as a family may help them come to terms with it. For younger family members who might be at risk for addiction down the road, seeing recovery from the inside may help guide them away from drug or alcohol abuse in the future.
Addiction and the Family Healing and Recovery
When it comes to addiction and the family, healing and recovery often come more easily and quickly when several people are involved. Some family members may express hesitancy about participating in therapy. A gentle reminder to them that families often solve all sorts of problems as a unit can help them be more open to participating in family therapy.
The individual in recovery can try pointing out that attending therapy will not be about assigning blame. It consists of a group effort to rally around the person in recovery while learning new ways for everyone to move forward. If possible, an initial family therapy session can be held so that the therapist can give family members an overview of what to expect in their sessions.
If a particular family member remains unconvinced and will not attend sessions, the others can still make progress in counseling sessions.
Addiction Treatment in Arizona
If you or someone you love needs helps to manage their recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, Continuum Recovery Center can help. We offer day and intensive outpatient treatment, medication-assisted treatment, and help to deal with any co-occurring mental health issues. We believe in using holistic approaches in order to treat the entire person.
If you would like to discuss our recovery programs, please contact Continuum Recovery Center now. We are happy to answers any questions you have.