Addiction touches so many lives – from the lives of those struggling with addiction, to their spouses, parents, children and ever employers. When first starting your journey to recovery it can be overwhelming; especially when you have a lot of bridges to repair. But surrounding yourself with loved ones is key to recovery from addiction. There is a direct link between the amount of support someone feels and their chances of relapse. If you are a person struggling with addiction, or in early recovery keep close to the ones who love you. So how can you support someone close to you who is in recovery? As family members often you feel helpless in the face of someone else’s addiction. But you are an integral part to their recovery, and there are many ways to show support while maintaining healthy boundaries.
1. Recognize that recovery is a journey, not a destination.
There is no “quick-fix” to recovery, rather it’s a lifelong journey that you as a family will go through together. Celebrate the successes and be willing to learn from the bumps in the road. The reward of watching someone you love change slowly over time is satisfying for you and the person in recovery. The change might be slow, but that’s the kind of change that lasts. Avoid placing high expectations on your loved one, instead focus on manageable goals that you can achieve as a family.
2. Be the best support you can be by making sure you take care of yourself
Family therapy and counselling is a wonderful option. Addiction truly is a family disease and its damages may go well beyond the surface. By participating in family therapy you show your loved one that you are committed to their recovery – and committed to your own recovery as well. Therapy is a safe place to begin to heal the relationships between family members and to grow together as a unit.
3. Be willing to own your role in your loved one’s addiction and deal with codependency
There is nothing more difficult than watching someone you love struggle with addiction. The dysfunction created by the person struggling can start to feel normal, and many family members cope by developing unhealthy behaviors of their own. Often parents or partners will neglect their own needs to help their loved one; this can look like staying up nights worrying about them or waiting up for them, avoiding contact with the outside world, developing low self-esteem and more. Codependency is the product of unhealthy or non-existent boundaries. In order for recovery to begin in the family each family member must take responsibility for their role in the addiction, and what they need to do to change.
Addiction affects the whole family and can feel overwhelming to those closest to the person struggling. Our reactions can be enabling, angry, codependent or just feeling hopeless. Learn how to be a supportive family member without becoming overwhelmed by your loved one’s recovery. There is no greater help to recovery than the love and healthy support of family and friends.