Drug and alcohol addiction is a family disease with far-reaching effects that transcend the life of the person with a drug or alcohol addiction. According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, families generally react to addiction as a unit in an effort to maintain equilibrium, but in doing so, dysfunction results as family members lose their sense of what’s normal.
Why Should I Involve Family in My Recovery Process
Numerous studies have shown that including your family in your treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction not only improves your chances of successful recovery process, but also jump starts the healing process for the involved family members.
One study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that participants in a 3-week inpatient treatment program who engaged in relapse prevention programming with a family member reported considerable improvements across three criteria, which included the presence of family problems, compared to those who completed the program alone.
Including your family in your treatment for substance addiction can make a big difference in the reparation of damaged relationships and help you stay on the road to long-term recovery. Here are four ways to engage your family in your recovery process.
1. Include Family in Family Therapy Sessions
Family therapy helps break dysfunctional patterns and elicit productive change for all family members, including children, spouses, and the addicted individual’s parents and siblings, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Family therapy takes a systems approach wherein positive changes to one part of the family system produces positive changes in other parts, contributing to the overall improved health of the family unit and the addicted loved one.
2. Make Regular Phone Calls Home
You’ll be kept busy in treatment, but free time can be especially tough for you if you miss your loved ones. Making a phone call home on a regular basis helps relieve homesickness and feelings of isolation as well as gives your family a chance to hear how things are going for you.
Hearing the voices of those you love can strengthen your resolve to recover for the long-term, and telling them what you’ve been learning can help you internalize those lessons on a deeper level and open the door for additional ways in which they can offer you their support.
3. Keep Family Members Current on Issues that Arise
Treatment will bring a number of issues to the surface, and keeping your family in the loop as new issues arise keeps them current on what’s happening in treatment and opens an important dialog wherein you can gain different perspectives on those issues. You may also have information to share with them about specific ways you and your family can move forward together and heal as a unit.
4. Ask Your Family to Join a Support Group
The better your family understands your addiction, the better your treatment outcome will likely be. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, families who participate in a support group like Al-Anon or take advantage of family programming offered by the treatment program will develop a comprehensive toolkit of strategies and techniques for supporting you in healthy and positive ways, which not only improves the well-being of the whole family but also lowers your risk of relapse once you complete treatment.
While the primary focus of treatment will be your physical and mental recovery from addiction, high-quality treatment programs work hard to engage the whole family in the treatment process from the time you enter the program until you’ve made the transition back into regular life. The support of your family and their engagement in your recovery will have a potently positive effect on the outcomes of everyone involved.
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