Family Therapy: A Critical Part of Recovery

Family Therapy: A Critical Part of Recovery

The Need to Help Yourself During a Loved One’s Rehabilitation for Substance Abuse

When you have a loved one who is battling addiction of one or more substances, it can take some time to arrange for their enrollment in a residential treatment program. You might have fought for this for years, and now it’s finally happening. When they will receive assistance for spiritual, physical, and emotional recovery, suddenly you are left alone. There is time to fill while they go through recovery, and there are your own emotions to address during this time.

The Benefits of Therapy for Family Members of Addicts

When a close friend or relative has entered addiction recovery, you have every reason to hope for a different future. Your relationship with the person going to treatment will surely change, but you will also be an important part of continued support for them during and after treatment. It is typical for relatives and friends of patients in addiction recovery to go through a whirlwind of feelings as their loved one enters a residential treatment program.

Experiencing Mixed Feelings about Addiction is Normal

As an addict’s close family member or friend, please accept that your feelings are a normal part of the recovery process. Rest assured that the patients themselves must also work through a variety of thoughts and emotions as they process their own decision to overcome addiction. Sometimes, friends and relatives of people going into rehab also have a tendency to feel responsible for their loved one’s addiction, thinking that somehow they could have stopped it from becoming a serious problem.

You Aren’t to Blame

A loved one’s addiction is not something for which you should assume personal responsibility or blame. The factors that led to your loved one’s substance abuse are complex. There will be no positive outcome from thinking you are the one to blame. If you choose to receive family therapy, you will get the coping strategies and ways of thinking that you need to truly support a loved one in rehab.

Don’t Pretend You Have All the Answers

As a loved one who is providing social and emotional support to an addict, you could easily believe that you understand the disease. However, without having gone through addiction and recovery firsthand, you should not pretend to know what it’s like. The recovery process is very personal to each individual. What’s more, there are many types of mental health conditions that can contribute to addiction. That’s why your loved one will rely on a professional rehabilitation team to manage every aspect of his or her therapy.

Treatment is Private

An addiction recovery program will be confidential, but he or she may choose to share aspects of it with you at different times. While each patient’s substance abuse problems are individual, you can help an addict by encouraging him or her to fully participate in the rehabilitation process. Your job is to suspend judgment and to offer words of kindness and love.

Recovery is a Process

When a person decides to enter a recovery program, he or she is going to have a tough time understanding all aspects of the condition. For example, they may be aware of common symptoms and appreciate the steps to recovery, such as detox and group/individual counseling sessions, but the experience of building better personal habits to replace addictive habits will be new. That being said, some people have entered rehab before and need to go through it again. It is really up to the individual to make use of all of the tools provided to them by their treatment program to structure their lives around better choices in the future.

Waiting is Part of Recovery

Allowing your loved one time to get well without your help is hard because you must sit back and let the professionals do their job. Your participation may be limited and there may be periods of time when you are not permitted to have contact with the patient.

Educate Yourself About Addiction

You don’t have to be a medical professional to learn more about addiction. There are many resources online, including through the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, that explain different forms of addiction and related conditions in detail. Public health fact sheets from these sources are a great way to understand what your loved one is going through, but in layman’s terms.

The Risk of Relapse

In therapy, you will learn important information for supporting an addict in the future. At any time after recovery, an addict may experience a relapse and require further treatment. A former addict may experience temptations or cravings throughout life, especially during times of stress. You can use family therapy sessions as a way to accept that this addiction pattern was not your fault. You can process feelings like anger, frustration, sadness, and grief. You can also learn the signs of relapse. Therefore, if your loved one slips up after rehab is complete, you will recognize those signs and be there to provide support. If an addict has a relapse and then receives early intervention, his or her recovery could be much easier.

Stay Positive

It’s important to get into family therapy and to keep yourself in a positive mindset. Remember, your loved one’s road to recovery will be long and challenging. Recovery is both emotionally and physically draining, leaving a person feeling like he or she wants to escape from the world. Sometimes, this causes them to sleep more than usual. There are many issues to deal with, and each person can only handle so much at one time. For example, an addict has to accept that he or she has practiced many self-destructive behaviors and to understand why these might have occurred. To be supportive, try to be patient and wait for the addict to make a series of choices that will produce a different future.

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