Strategies For Family Healing
March 3, 2018
Once families have assessed the impact of addiction in their own dynamic; Once they’ve identified with the assumed roles associated with an addicted loved one, the only appropriate subsequent step is toward constructive, restorative action. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies to begin implementing in activities of daily living.
Use this article as a reference and strategy guide for navigating the complex issues arising out of addiction and impacting the home. Remember, however, that educational content like this is no substitute for comprehensive guidance, counseling and community support.
What You Can Do For Your Loved One
- Seek education on addiction and recovery. Get comfortable with the “disease model” concept. It will provide a foundation for understanding the way your loved one lives, acts and reacts in active addiction, as well as recovery.
- Avoid accusing or judging. Avoid name calling.
- Cultivate and maintain a sober environment that reduces triggers.
- Allow your loved one ample time to attend recovery fellowship meetings, including time dedicated to “fellowshipping” before or after.
- Attempt to understand that your life has been distinctly affected by addiction. Think of addiction as a family illness: a complex series of dynamics and patterns of feelings and behaviors. Don’t hang on to your “old life”. Look forward to the rewards of transformation.
- Allow time for recreation. Many people abuse drugs and alcohol to relax or escape. Addicts need to find new, healthy ways to cope with the stresses of daily life, and they need to learn to enjoy themselves in a wholesome, holistic way.
- Avoid enabling. Do whatever you can to refrain from providing excuses, or covering up for, your addicted loved one.
- Don’t shield your loved one from the consequences of their addiction. As hard as it may be to accept, suffering negative consequences helps prepare the ground for self-motivated change.
- Identify and strengthen boundaries. Remember, the goal of healthy boundaries is to heal, not to punish or shame.
- Consistently work to acknowledge your loved one’s potential: their potential for sobriety, of course, but also their potential in life. To succeed, to mature, to find balance, peace and purpose.
- And finally, re-frame addiction as a chronic illness. On that basis, attempt to view, engage and relate to your loved one exactly as you would someone with a serious condition. How would you treat them if they were diagnosed with diabetes or cancer?
What You Can Do For Yourself
- First and foremost: take care of yourself. Living with an addicted loved one is a trying, exhausting experience. Remember that you, too, need time to heal and recover.
- Don’t self-blame. You’re not in the driver’s seat of anyone else’s life, and you can’t force your loved one to change.
- Don’t work for your loved one’s sobriety more than they are willing to work for themselves. The most effective approach is to be an example of balance, self-love and self-awareness, rather than to do simply “do things” for the addict.
- Reach out for help. Seek out an experienced professional. Research community support programs like Al-Anon.
- Avoid arguing or facilitating “serious conversations” with the addict when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- And, whenever and wherever you can, avoid being negative with your loved one. It could cause you to experience more guilt and shame and convince yourself you’ve “pushed” them to use again, or more.
Professional Clinical Expertise
These tips will provide a sufficient sense of clarity and direction, but they are no substitute for confidential work with a qualified professional. There are expert resources outside of community support groups designed specifically for families and loved ones living with alcoholics or addicts.
Family Rearrangement Therapy
Bradford Recovery Center’s PA drug rehab centers pioneered the “Family Rearrangement Program”. The FRP was designed to approach addiction with a family-focus: a dynamic problem, with correspondingly dynamic solutions. Call today to speak with a compassionate professional and identify if our programs are the right fit for you or your loved one.