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How Families Can Turn Around Addictive Behaviours

Substance abuse and addiction can damage family dynamics, erode trust, and weaken communication. Family members who experience a loved one battling with a substance use disorder (SUD) often endure a host of painful emotions. Equally frustrating is the hopelessness loved ones feel in response to substance abuse.  You may want to encourage them to enter addiction treatment.

Family members may feel at a loss when seeing a loved one caught in the grips of substance abuse. For example, stumbling upon burnt spoons and used syringes can create paralyzing feelings of fear and shock.

However, family members can help their loved one achieve and maintain sobriety. Despite seeing a loved one struggle, family members can play a major role in the treatment process. The role of family in addiction recovery is both significant and important.

Healthy Roles Families Play in Addiction Treatment Recovery

Family members can assume healthy roles and behaviours to encourage and support recovery. For example, a parent may play the role of the supportive but firm caregiver who encourages their loved one to take thoughtful and positive action. Healthy family roles and choices include holding the loved one accountable for their behaviour and creating rewards for positive choices, such as the decision to enter into an addiction treatment program.

Family members may attend support groups with their loved one or attend their own support groups for families of someone suffering from addiction. The creation of healthy boundaries is a building block of recovery for the family.

Roles Families Play in Addiction Treatment Recovery for Adolescents

Adolescents battling an SUD are often profoundly affected by it. Since adolescents are still developing social and behavioural patterns, early substance abuse can complicate future events. For example, adolescents are more likely to struggle with a lifelong SUD if they do not get help at a young age. Adolescents may also explore many drugs, seeking strong and novel highs. They may even combine several chemicals, unknowingly increasing the risk of a fatal overdose. The role of the family is important at this stage, as they can intervene in their young loved one’s life to discourage drug use.

Family members may feel frustration as the adolescent skips school, gets poor grades, or befriends other teens who abuse drugs. Parents often feel anxiety over their child’s whereabouts and sudden changes in their social circles. In response, primary guardian and parental figures demonstrate a wide variety of behaviours and attitudes. Some may tune in and out, being inconsistently emotionally available for their child. Others may feel denial and misdirect their anger, sparking communication breakdowns.

It also is not unheard of for a parent to abuse drugs or alcohol in response to teens abusing harmful chemicals. In such cases, parents have to be mindful of being an example of strength for children. Strong support and connection can help encourage their teens to get clean and possibly reduce the rate of relapse.

roles families play in addiction treatment recovery

Family Support Groups and Addiction Treatment

Both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment facilities offer support groups for patients to connect with peer groups. Among the most common are the 12-Step groups that offer personal accountability and spirituality to help maintain sobriety.

Al-Anon is a support group focusing on families affected by substance abuse. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, and cousins talk about their challenges with the family members of other addicted people. In this environment, you are with people who understand what you are going through. Like other 12-Step groups, Al-Anon members use spiritual themes to encourage acceptance and compassion.

Al-Ateen is a support group that includes teen family members who help each other heal and discuss complications from witnessing a loved one abuse harmful substances. With both Al-Anon and Al-Ateen, family members can feel connected to the recovery process and provide input over their experiences.

Avoiding Enabling Behaviour

One of the most important and difficult things that family members can do is to avoid behaviours that make it easier for the addiction to continue. Examples of these behaviours include the following:

  • Lending the addicted person money, or paying for their bills or groceries
  • Tolerating physically abusive or aggressive behaviour
  • Covering for the addicted person, for example by calling in sick to their place of work or making excuses for their behaviour
  • Attempting to prevent legal proceedings from taking their course

aggressive behaviour

Get Help Today

Our families are one of our most valuable support groups, even though the damage done by abusing harmful substances can be lasting. However, there is hope for both family members of individuals suffering from an addiction and for the individual who is abusing harmful substances. Many addiction treatment centers offer family therapy, incorporating innovative communication exercises, and relationship-strengthening activities led by licensed therapists.

At Intervention Rehab, we make it easier for families to help their loved ones with addictions. Our intervention professionals will guide you through the process of asking your family member to seek help, and with our extensive connections with a wide array of treatment methods, we will connect the individual to the kind of help that is just right for them.

It is never too late to fix broken relationships with the help of licensed therapists and medical health professionals. Contact us today to get started on the process of helping your addicted loved one embark on their recovery journey.

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