Addiction touches every member of the family in some way, not just the person using the substances. Healing is needed for everyone, but during the treatment process, the person with a substance use disorder needs the support of the family more than ever. How can you, as a family member, support someone in treatment for addiction?
Never Give Up – The Need for Compassion
The chances are that if your family member is going to treatment for addiction, their words and behaviors have hurt you. Many family members are emotionally or even physically or financially harmed by their loved ones before they seek treatment for their addiction. This can make it difficult to maintain a relationship and hard not to give up on your loved one.
Even if your relationship has been strained or broken because of addiction, treatment calls for compassion and support. Treatment is a time of healing and change. Perhaps your loved one will not change as desired, and perhaps they will relapse and continue to be the person you distanced yourself from because of their behaviors in active addiction. Perhaps they will change. Everyone deserves compassion. Everyone deserves a second chance. Addiction is a medical condition that requires treatment, and those who suffer deserve compassion.
Learn About Addiction
One of the most powerful ways to demonstrate your support is to learn about addiction. Unless you have lived with addiction yourself, you may not understand how addiction begins or how it affects people. Learning about the science behind addiction and the why of substance abuse will help you to understand better the science behind your family member’s words and actions. Learning about the substances your family member used will also help you understand more about their health and behaviors.
Learning about substance use disorders will also help you to better understand the human side of addiction. How does it feel to be in so much pain that you turn to substance use to numb or escape it? How does it feel to be addicted to a substance and not have control over your life or your behaviors? How does it feel about hurting those that you love most when you never intended to? The more you learn about addiction, the more you will understand how your family member got where they are.
Educate Yourself About Recovery
As you educate yourself about addiction, you can also learn about recovery and what to expect as your family member goes through detox and treatment and then heads toward recovery. What is it like to go through detox? What types of treatment are available? What will your loved one be doing in treatment? How long does treatment last?
Most helpful may be learning what comes after treatment. Try to understand what it is like for someone to live without substances, what it is like to have cravings long after the drugs or alcohol are out of your body, and what it is like to wake up each day and still have to battle addiction. Learn about ways that you can be supportive, such as not drinking around them, helping them get to meetings, being available to them when they need to talk, or just being there for them.
Participate in the Treatment Process
Families often participate in the treatment process by attending family therapy sessions during residential treatment. Make yourself physically and emotionally available to support your loved one. Be willing to be open and accepting and try new things to help your loved one. Keep in mind that their minds and bodies are going through a tremendous metamorphosis, and therapy may be intense. Have compassion and be willing to learn about yourself in the process.
Work on Your Own Healing
Something that most family members overlook is beginning their own healing process. Just as addiction touches every family member, recovery should touch every family member as well. You have been through all of the difficult times, and whether you may want to admit it or not, you may have contributed in some way to the addiction or behaviors. Addiction hurts families, and pain needs healing.
You can support your loved one by finding your own therapy and working on healing from your pain in relation to the addiction. You can continue to participate in family therapy to help heal relationships and learn to improve communication as a family. As you educate and work to find healing, you may develop more understanding and compassion for your loved one. This is how supporting your loved one will become second nature for you.
Supporting a family member in treatment for addiction requires compassion and understanding. Compassion is developed as you participate in the treatment process and begin your own healing. Understanding is developed through education about addiction and the recovery process. The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women is a detox and residential treatment program in Costa Mesa, California. We treat women with addiction and co-occurring disorders such as depression. Our trauma-informed care offers you safe, non-judgmental, compassionate healing. We involve families in the treatment process because we understand the important role they play in recovery. We offer group and individual therapy for our patients and a variety of treatment modalities to help facilitate whole-person healing. Our goal is to provide a safe place for women to find their way again. Contact us at The Ho Tai Way at (714) 581-3974 to learn more.