Addiction can affect anyone, not just those who are addicted to substances. These are ten ways family members can cope with the addiction of a loved one.
Family plays a significant role in recovery, so it’s important that spouses, parents, siblings, children, and friends understand how to support one another.
You may have questions or concerns if you are a loved one of someone who is struggling with addiction.
- How to manage addiction
- How to support your loved ones
- Support groups available for family members of addicts
Ten Tips for Families Dealing with an Addict
Anyone can become addicted, even those in the most loving of families. Family members and friends can often be directly affected by addiction. It is important that family and friends understand addiction so they can help their loved ones get into treatment. You can provide the support and love that the addict needs to heal. These are 10 ways to help.
1. Learn as much about addiction as you can.
Family members can escape the blame game by learning. Instead of believing that someone’s addiction is due to weakness, willfulness, or stubbornness, it may be beneficial to learn how brain changes can cause it. Understanding that addiction is not an option can help you release anger or resentment about the addiction of a loved one.
Many online resources are available to help families learn more about addiction. Many bookstores have a large selection of books on addiction.
This knowledge can boost the family’s hope. You can feel more confident in your ability to conquer addiction with each new advancement.
2. Get to know your peers.
It can be difficult to support or live with someone suffering from addiction. Research shows that addiction in a close family member can lead to a stressful and difficult life. This can cause long-term dysfunction that can make communication for families difficult.
It can be helpful to connect with other peers, especially if the family uses a trusted program such as Al-Anon and Alateen. These programs are designed to support families of addicts. These programs also offer a safe and non-judgmental environment for family members to learn, discuss, and deal with the addictions that are occurring in their lives.
Meetings like these are attended by people from all walks of life. However, one survey revealed that many of them were attracted to the meetings because they were looking for help.
- A better quality of your life
- A person who is addicted will have fewer problems
- Stress levels can be reduced
- Improve your psychological health
Although these are lofty goals they can be achieved with the help of meetings. Feelings of isolation and doubt can be reduced by attending a family meeting and listening to others. Family members may learn the skills necessary to deal with the interpersonal issues they are facing. These meetings can be a great way for families to learn how to handle addiction in a loved one.
3. Take your family to therapy.
Parents, siblings,, and spouses of addicts often take on many of the effects of their loved ones using substances. People often find it difficult to talk openly about their addictions. They tend to avoid speaking out. If they get tired of fighting with their loved ones, family members may become distant. They might blame their addiction for their own problems, or blame the addict for their unhappy state.
Family members can be held back by blame games and silences that prevent them from seeking help. Families may not be equipped to support someone in active recovery. They may also not have the energy or the resources to do so.
Family therapy programs aim to reduce distrust and guilt, giving everyone an opportunity to be heard. These programs help families to understand each other and deal with conflict in a healthy manner. Family relationships that were once dominated by anger or addiction can become close-knit groups that are capable of supporting one another through honest communication, healthy boundaries, and support.
Family therapy sessions can be time-consuming and families with conflicting schedules and appointments may find it tempting to skip a session. This work is essential to the mental health and well-being of all involved. Therefore, it’s important that everyone attends meetings whenever possible.
4. As a family, prepare meals.
Family meals allow everyone to come together at the end of stressful, lonely,, or upsetting days. Every meal builds upon the work of family therapy and can foster a sense of shared ground and belonging.
It doesn’t always have to end at the table. It can be as simple as spending time together cooking and cleaning up afterward. A single meal a week can make a big difference.
5. Manage expectations.
The feeling of hope that everyone feels when a person is admitted to addiction treatment and their family begins the journey towards recovery can be thrilling. The addiction problem is finally being addressed. Things will improve.
It can take time for addiction-related behaviors and patterns to change. Sometimes, the person might continue to use old behaviors or get frustrated by the process of recovery. Sometimes this slow shift can lead to disappointment.
Relapse can be very demoralizing. Relapse is part of the recovery process for addiction, which is a chronic condition. Although there are steps you can take to prevent relapses, recovery is a journey that will not end in one event.
You must also manage your expectations of yourself and your family members. Relationships take time and effort to heal. Family members in early recovery can make mistakes and may not be perfect, but they can still have fun together and support each other. You can make things more meaningful if you work together towards a drug-free lifestyle.
6. Keep in touch with your personal joy.
It’s easier to manage expectations when people are in control of their own happiness. This means that every member of a family who is recovering needs to find something relaxing and satisfying. This could be:
- How to play an instrument
- Photographing nature
- Volunteering for animals
- Playing with children
These and other activities can help participants feel happy, retain a sense of worth and efficacy, and boost their mental health.
7. Get regular exercise.
Although it may not be everyone’s idea of fun, these sessions can provide significant benefits. Exercise is known to help reduce stress and depression.
Dopamine and oxytocin are released when muscles are stretched and tendons are pushed. Families can vent their stress and worry in healthy ways. They can run instead of shouting. They can also do yoga instead of pacing. It is a great way to keep on track with healing and it is relatively easy to start.
8. Respect a strict sleep/wake routine.
Many of the most dangerous and addictive behavior occur at night. Addicts may meet dealers, take overdoses, get swept away from parties, or fall into other dangerous situations that require family members to handle. So it’s not surprising that many families going through recovery struggle to get enough sleep. Their brains are always ready for the next nighttime emergency.
The recovery process can be made more difficult by frequent sleep loss. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to depression, anxiety, withdrawal, and lack of motivation. A consistent and adequate sleep schedule will help you function at your best, as well as cope with addiction.
9. Book private therapy sessions.
Although lifestyle changes can help families in crisis, addictions can lead to deep wounds. Professional help is often needed. Research shows that addicted families are more likely to experience anxiety and depression.
A private therapy session can be used to help stressed family members talk openly about their problems and work through them.
The skills-based approach to private sessions is the most common. This allows caregivers to learn how to handle destructive thoughts and bad habits that have been engrained over years of addiction. They may learn how to calm down and meditate, or develop assertiveness skills. They may do group work on anger management or learn to let go of codependent behaviors. This will allow them to not feel guilty for others’ poor choices.
Personal therapy sessions can be time-consuming and require homework. This time can have many real benefits. These sessions can be a great way for family members to get the support they need to help others. They may also find the strength and resolve they’ve been lacking.
10. Educate and advocate.
A lot of people are misinformed about addiction. Some people view addiction as a weakness and will openly share their opinions in casual conversations. Others see addiction as something that family members need to fix or ignore. Sometimes, even when a family tries to help their loved ones, they are judged or called “enabling.”
When harsh words or careless comments are made to family members by coworkers, friends, and distant relatives who see them on a regular basis, they can be particularly painful. In such an environment, it can be difficult to remain positive. However, families can help make a difference. They can tell the truth about addiction every time they hear it. They can share the knowledge from their private research, therapy sessions, and support groups with their friends and offer destigmatizing words for them to use.
It is courageous to advocate for people suffering from addiction. It is also vital, empowering, and health-affirming. Families that speak up and do not keep silent are doing more than complaining. These conversations can have a tremendous impact on the spirits of families and positively impact their communities.
Additional Support & Resources for Addict Families
Addictions can be overcome together. The Hathaway Recovery is one of many excellent facilities that offer support for the individual and their families. Our treatment teams have created a variety of programs for families.
Successful recovery can only be possible with the support of family and friends. Friends and family who keep informed about their loved one’s mental and physical health and support them are better equipped to handle addiction and help their loved ones. This will put their family on a path to long-term recovery. If you have any questions regarding family resources, recovery, and personalized treatment options for addiction for your loved one, please contact us immediately.