Family & Loved One’s Support
How To Support Your Loved One Who’s Getting Treatment For Substance Abuse
A strong support network of friends, family members, and loved ones can make a huge difference in a drug user’s ability to get and stay sober. Most treatment centers even acknowledge the importance of family support services. Therefore, here are some ways to encourage and support a loved one who’s in treatment.
Use a Positive, Encouraging Tone
It’s easy to get angry and impatient at the choices that a person who suffers from addiction makes. The actions of addicts aren’t only damaging to themselves, but they’re damaging to the family and friends of addicts as well. Still, as much as you have a right to feel angry, try to keep your anger in check when you’re talking to an addict.
Encouragement and a shared hope for the future are more likely to convict an addict and produce a change in him or her than pleading or threats will. This is especially the case if you’re a close family member of that addict. Remember, family support services are essential for a person that suffers from an addiction to obtain and maintain sobriety.
Educate Yourself About Addiction
The more you know about addiction and addiction treatment, the more you can help your loved one while he or she is on a journey to recovery. To help you provide quality family support services for your loved one, here are some facts about addiction and addiction treatment that you should learn.
- Treatment works. Substance abuse experts continue to develop “gold standard” therapies and evidence-based treatments.
- Detox alone is not enough. Detox will remove drugs and alcohol from the body, but intensive substance abuse treatment must follow it.
- People that abuse substances can experience a range of emotional, physical, and psychological reactions after they stop using drugs. These include sleep difficulties, depression, and anxiety.
- Relapse is a normal part of recovery. Some addicts have to repeat treatment several times before they get it right and become sober.
- Even when addicts don’t achieve complete sobriety, they can show dramatic improvements in other areas of their lives. For example, they can show improvement in their professional, financial, family, and community life. These are worthwhile goals even addicts don’t achieve total abstinence after addiction treatment.
Know That Treatment Is Not a Cure
Addiction treatment works, but it isn’t a magic fix. Addiction treatment takes time, work, and persistence to get through successfully.
It’s also important to remember that even when addicts successfully become sober after addiction treatment, they’ll have to remain diligent about their sobriety for the rest of their lives. This is because there is no cure for addiction.
Take Part In Treatment Opportunities
Most addiction treatment centers provide child and family support services. For example, family members of those suffering from addiction can partake in family therapy sessions and family support groups at most treatment facilities.
Is your loved one going into inpatient care? If so, you should know that inpatient treatment provides family therapy and encourages family visits.
While visiting a family member that’s in rehab may be difficult to do, it’s important that you make the effort to do so. This is because your family support services could be the difference between your loved one being motivated enough to overcome addiction and your loved one feeling alone, discouraged, and depressed and thus, not overcoming addiction. Therefore, stay in touch with your loved one through phone calls, cards, or whatever means of communication that your loved one is permitted to use in treatment.
Find a Center for Family Support at the Treatment Center
When your loved one goes into treatment, ask about family support services. Also, be sure to know when the family therapy sessions will take place.
Some family members of addicts may not want to visit their loved ones in rehab. This may be due to family issues, shame, and old feelings of anger and resentment towards the family member that’s in addiction treatment. If you’re concerned about whether or not certain family members will support their loved ones that are in addiction treatment, ask the treatment facility for family support and assistance.
Join Groups That Offer Family Support Services
To provide a loved one that’s receiving addiction treatment with family support services, you can also join a center for family support that’s outside of a treatment center. The most well-known centers for family support are the organizations Al-Anon and Narc-Anon. These two nonprofit organizations provide child and family support services to families affected by substance use.
One of the best approaches for child and family support services is the CRAFT approach. CRAFT stands for “community reinforcement and family treatment.” This is a technique for talking to people with addictions and convincing them to enter treatment. Learning this family support technique is very much worth it.
Create a Safe and Supportive Home Environment
Your home is the center for family support before, during, and after treatment. If your loved one is receiving residential treatment, he or she will come straight from a drug-free environment with 24/7 monitoring to the real world that’s filled with stress, temptations, and the same triggers that drove that person to abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place. Therefore, relapse is often unavoidable.
While you can’t really prevent a relapse, you can lower the chances that it will happen. To do so, you should remove or lock-up all mood-altering substances from your home. You should then encourage your newly sober family member to attend a support group such as a 12-step meeting.
Finally, you should engage in new and fun activities with your newly sober loved one. Doing all of this will provide the support and encouragement that your loved one needs to maintain sobriety after treatment.
Hold Your Loved One Accountable
Being supportive and compassionate doesn’t mean letting your loved ones take advantage of you. Make sure that your loved ones continue to go to counseling or support group sessions after they finish treatment. You should also insist that your loved one gets a job or goes back to school. That way your loved one can truly get his or her life back on track.
If your loved one suffers from anger issues or any other issue that you’re concerned about, try to help him or her receive the extra help that he or she may need to resolve those issues. This is especially necessary if doing so will provide you and everyone around your loved one with safety and peace. Your loved one owes at least that much to you and the rest of your family after damaging it with his or her addiction.
Take Care of Yourself
When you’re dealing with a loved one’s addiction, you go through tremendous emotional stress. On top of that, you’re at high risk of obtaining verbal and even physical abuse. You may also suffer financially from the strain of supporting an addict and paying for treatment. All of this can take a toll on you and cause you to develop stress-related conditions like depression and anxiety. Therefore, it’s imperative that you and the other family members and close friends of addicts take care of yourself.
This means spending time on self-care before, during, and after your loved one completes addiction treatment. This also means taking care of your own emotional and physical needs. In fact, you should do this prior to taking care of your loved one that suffers from addiction. Remember, you can’t take care of anyone else if you yourself aren’t taken care of.
For extra assistance reducing your stress as a caregiver of an addict, you can turn to family support services. These services should have a plethora of resources. You and other people that are close to a recovering addict can use such resources to lighten your load.
What Not To Do as a Loved One of a Recovering Addict
Now that we’ve gone over all of the things that you should do as a family member of someone in recovery for addiction, it’s time to go over some of the things that you shouldn’t do. We’ve described some of the things that you shouldn’t do, below.
Don’t Get Impatient With Your Loved One’s Struggle
The road to recovery is not a straight line. Your loved one may seem to be on the right path one day and then be stumbling blindly the next. Even seemingly successful treatment can end in relapse.
There are addicts that maintain their sobriety for the rest of their lives after treatment without relapsing, but they are the exception. Most people with a substance use disorder follow a pattern of recovery and relapse until the treatment finally “takes.
Don’t Be an Enabler
Providers of family support services often talk about “enabling.” How do I know if I’m enabling an addict, you might be wondering? Well, are you giving your loved one money every time he or she asks? Are you making excuses for his or her work or school absences? Are you helping the addict avoid the consequences of his or her continued drug use? All these things enable substance use disorder.
Part of holding people accountable is letting them experience the discomfort, embarrassment, and legal consequences of their choice to use drugs or alcohol. Your natural instinct is to protect the person you love, but in this case, you’re doing more harm than good.
Get Help For Your Loved One at the Harm Reduction Center
If you’ve convinced your family member to go into addiction treatment, consider referring that person to Harm Reduction Center. We provide proven and compassionate inpatient and outpatient care for people that suffer from addiction. We also provide child and family support services.
To learn more about HARC and the other services that provide, feel free to contact us today. We look forward to receiving your call.
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Have questions or suggestions about our experiential therapy for substance abuse?
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