For anyone dealing with substance use disorder, having a strong line of family support in recovery can help a tremendous amount. Recovering in these situations is a difficult process, with a number of factors that can greatly influence a person’s success. For those taking part in this commendable act, knowing that someone is there to support you on your journey can make all the difference.
What many don’t realize is that substance use disorder affects more than the struggling individual, and families can also share in the pressure, guilt, and intensity of these situations. Because of this correlation, many treatment plans now aim to focus and stress the importance of family support in recovery, to provide formidable ways to go about the situation for all members involved.
How Does Substance Use Affect the Family?
When an individual is struggling with substance use, the difficult and delicate nature of the situation can often greatly influence the person’s family members in various ways. What further complicates the matter is that no two family members will react the same exact way toward a struggling loved one. While everybody copes differently, here are some ways substance use can affect the entire family:
- Mental and Emotional Distress – It is an emotionally tolling process to watch a loved one struggle with substance use. When family members experience this distress, their reactions and emotions vary from their norm. Family members are obviously rooting for their loved one to succeed, but when complications arise, they can feel frustrated, disillusioned, and angry.
- Shift in Family Dynamics – Family dynamics are often thrown off during recovery. Especially when a parent of children is struggling, adjusting to the new situation at home can be frustrating. This can further lead to distress, as well as tensions between family members as a result of guilt, stress, or other emotions.
- Enabling Behaviors – Family members instinctively seek to provide support to struggling loved ones in whatever way they can, but this can lead to enabling. Enabling occurs when a family member’s support does not help a loved one confront the consequences of their substance use, and instead assists them in continuing their negative behaviors. This is usually not on purpose, but can further lead an individual toward relapse.
Supporting a Family Member in Recovery
When supporting a family member in recovery, it’s important to understand the viewpoint of the individual themselves. You may think your advice is the correct option, but everyone is different, and there is no clear cut way to address these concerns. Still, there are some proven ways to offer your support and lower the risk of relapse. Here’s advice for how to support a loved one in recovery:
- Offer Encouragement – Being able to openly discuss the possibilities of this hardship is crucial to providing sufficient support. Offer encouragement, and let your loved one know you care, and are willingly committed to their journey from start to finish as a support system and backup.
- Accountability – Part of avoiding enabling is by holding accountability for the individual’s actions. By standing firm on certain limits and milestones put in place, a person is far more likely to succeed and avoid relapse.
- Offer Support Options – Education can be a big part of healing. It’s important to give a person options in their journey, whether it’s family therapy, workshops, or other programs. Here, the individual can learn valuable skills and information regarding their situation, giving them the tools needed to heal.
Retreat Behavioral Health is helping families overcome the challenges of substance use disorder. We provide trusted resources for loved ones through our free family workshops and support groups, with the comprehensive care needed to target these delicate situations.