Addiction is a Family Disease
Substance use affects everyone in the family, not just the person under the influence. According to The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, addiction is a family disease. This means that recovery is a process that must include loved ones as well. In fact, most people enter treatment because of the encouragement of their support system, whose members may have organized an intervention or other aspects of the intake process.
Ongoing misuse of drugs and alcohol changes how people act on a fundamental level – a loved one may not look or behave the way they did before, which can be upsetting to friends and family. It’s important for everyone involved to learn to cope and assist their family member in making positive changes.
The Importance of Family Support in Recovery
A wide body of research has established the importance of friends and family in recovery. Studies show that higher levels of positive family support contribute to lower rates of relapse overall. Additionally, the involvement of siblings, parents, and children in recovery can decrease the likelihood of other family members misusing substances in the future.
Improved family communication from therapy can contribute to a healthy exchange of feelings, which promotes relationship health and functionality of the family unit. Moderated therapeutic discussion helps everyone involved voice their opinions in a neutral, safe space, allowing everyone to work together to set goals. This keeps the loved one motivated in recovery, creates expectations of what will happen during and after treatment, and eases feelings of fear and stress among all members of the group.
In order to fully understand why these actions have so much impact on the person suffering from addiction, it’s important to know that families are systems. This means that when one person’s behavior shifts, it changes the way each family member behaves. For example, when one struggles with active addiction, they usually under-function and behave irresponsibly. This destabilizes the home environment and changes relationships for everyone in the system: parents, children, siblings, spouses, and friends must compensate. Often, family members will develop their own unhealthy coping mechanisms in response to a loved one’s addiction. This impacts their health, finances, and psychological wellbeing. Life becomes more chaotic and responsibilities shift, creating the feeling of being on a roller coaster you can’t get off.
Luckily, this impact goes both ways. When the rest of the family comes together, it has an incredible effect on the addicted person’s worldview and sobriety. By making a commitment to encourage the person in recovery, the family stabilizes and aligns to create shared goals.
There are a wide variety of ways to get involved in a loved one’s addiction treatment. Family members can dedicate themselves to helping to plan the recovery process, learn about the treatment program and substance use disorder their loved one is affected by, attend groups or appointments as requested, and generally encourage the person in treatment. Their support can take many forms, but should always be nonjudgmental, firm, and positive in nature.
Benefits of Family Education
Of all available options, shared family education is the best way to get everyone involved in a loved one’s recovery. It helps everyone to understand and process how they have been affected by the disease of addiction and equips them to participate in the treatment plan. The family is an integral part of the total program.
Family education creates a solid understanding of the disease of addiction – everything from how it affects the body and mind to signs that your loved one may have a problem. It also centers around developing coping skills and setting healthy boundaries to protect oneself and others. Above all else, the involvement of family in the recovery process motivates long-term sobriety.
The fact is, no one is born knowing how to deal with a loved one’s addiction. Beyond educating family members about the realities of substance abuse, this program also reduces feelings of otherness and isolation common to those affected by addiction.
This is achieved by participation in lectures with patients and discussion groups with other families. Group conversations allow everyone to vent thoughts they’ve been holding in; they’re also able to share those feelings with others who understand them firsthand. Above all, our family program empowers everyone in attendance and furnishes them with a recovery plan that will work.
Family Education and Treatment
Lakeside-Milam treatment centers offer comprehensive family education that allows loved ones to actively contribute to the recovery process. Through these programs, family members get a chance to meet with others who truly understand their experience.
If your loved one is struggling with the disease of addiction, we encourage you to call us toll-free at (800) 231-4303 and begin putting together your unique, family-centered treatment plan today.