Support For Friends And Family

Addiction is a far-reaching and nondiscriminatory condition that not only affects the addict, but also their friends, family, and other loved ones. Loving an addict can be extremely difficult. It can take a serious toll on your mental and emotional health. While everyone responds differently when someone they love is struggling with addiction, there are various ways you and your family can support your loved one in their recovery journey.

With that said, it’s important not to get too wrapped up in someone else’s addiction. You still deserve to take care of yourself. Understanding how you can support your loved one while getting support for yourself is vital for you and your family’s well-being.

Convincing a Loved One to Go to Rehab: Intervention Support

When someone is struggling with addiction, close family and friends are often the first people to find out. Moreover, friends and family are usually the ones responsible for convincing people to go to rehab in the first place. However, if your addicted loved one refuses to go to rehab, you may need additional support. Allowing your loved one to continue their addiction without consequence can cause further harm and devastation to your entire family.

Family involvement in recovery usually starts with an intervention. Interventions can help convince reluctant individuals to go to rehab or accept the help that their family and friends are offering. During an intervention, your family will work closely with an intervention specialist to convince your loved one to go to rehab.

If your intervention is successful, your loved one will be transferred to an addiction treatment facility. However, interventions aren’t the only ways family members are involved in the addiction, recovery, and treatment process–your support is just as important at every stage of your loved one’s recovery.

The Importance of Family Involvement in Treatment and Recovery

While families are greatly impacted by loved ones struggling with addiction, getting involved in a loved one’s treatment and recovery can reduce the gravity of those impacts. Family involvement in treatment and recovery can also improve treatment entry, completion, and outcomes for the addicted individual.[1] Further, since family behaviors and dysfunction in the family unit can affect substance use, repairing the family unit and participating in recovery together can reduce your loved one’s risk for relapse.[2]

There are many ways friends and family play a role in the addiction recovery process, such as:

  • Staging an intervention
  • Making arrangements for the addicted individual’s care
  • Covering the costs of rehab
  • Encouraging the individual to stay in rehab
  • Participating in family counseling sessions
  • Lending support behind all recovery-related endeavors
  • Getting support for themselves from support groups for families and friends of addicts or alcoholics

While it is possible to get sober without the support of one’s family, having family support helps reduce treatment barriers and improve long-term outcomes in recovery. It also gives you and your other family members an opportunity to heal from the impacts you have experienced as a result of your loved one’s behaviors.

What to Expect When Your Loved One Goes to Rehab

When your loved one finally accepts help and goes to rehab, you may be wondering what to expect and how you can get involved. As soon as your loved one arrives at the treatment center, he or she will meet with members of the clinical team for a comprehensive intake assessment. This assessment helps the team create an individualized treatment plan based on your loved one’s unique needs. From there, your loved one will begin detox or treatment.

If your loved one is attending a residential treatment program, they may be unable to contact you in the first few days of treatment. This brief “no contact” or “blackout” period is intended to help your loved one adjust to the rehab facility without having any outside distractions. Once your loved one is situated and medically stable, he or she will be able to call you during designated hours and write letters to you.

It’s important to remember that drug and alcohol rehab facilities are providing medical treatment so they are subject to HIPAA and other privacy laws. Unless your loved one has provided consent, the rehab facility may be unable to share details with you about your loved one or any other clients in the facility.

After your loved one begins making progress in treatment, he or she may invite you to family day or to participate in a family therapy session. If you plan on being involved in supporting your loved one’s recovery journey, family therapy is the best place to start.

Participating in Family Therapy With Your Addicted Loved One

Addiction touches the entire family, and everyone involved deserves an opportunity to heal. Family therapy sessions are a great way to discuss sensitive topics and work through challenging issues in a safe, therapeutic, and mediated environment. Family therapy will give you and your family members an opportunity to express your concerns, work through painful emotions, improve communication with your addicted loved one, and learn how to best support your loved one in the future. These sessions are led and mediated by a licensed substance abuse counselor.

Most addiction treatment centers have “family days” or offer family counseling sessions to their clients and their loved ones. Participating in these counseling sessions gives everyone in your family the chance to have their voice heard, address issues that are personal to them, and repair the family unit. Your participation will also demonstrate to your addicted loved one just how much you support and care about his or her recovery.

Support Groups for Family and Friends in Recovery

While family counseling can help repair the relationships within your family unit, addiction is a disease that affects everyone close to the person suffering, and you and your loved ones may be left dealing with the lasting impact of someone’s addiction. Fortunately, there are many support groups that are designed to help family and friends of addicted individuals find the support they need.

Some of the most popular addiction and recovery support groups for friends and family include:

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon

Al-Anon is a 12-Step program that was created as an offshoot of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It is a worldwide fellowship dedicated to helping friends and family members of alcoholics. Al-Anon meetings bring together these individuals to share their experiences, offer support, and work through the 12-Steps.

Nar-Anon is based on Al-Anon, except it is related to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and is dedicated to helping support friends and family of people who struggle with drug addiction.

Alateen

Alateen is part of the Al-Anon fellowship, however, it is geared toward helping adolescents and teenagers deal with the effects of a loved one’s alcoholism.

Families Anonymous

Similar to Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, Families Anonymous is another 12-Step program dedicated to helping family members of people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. However, it also provides support to those who are affected by a loved one’s mental or behavioral health condition.

SMART Recovery Family and Friends

SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is a secular alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous. They also have an additional fellowship called SMART Recovery Family and Friends that hosts meetings to help family members and friends cope with a loved one’s drug or alcohol addiction.

Co-Dependents Anonymous

Co-Dependents Anonymous or Co-DA is another 12-Step fellowship that helps people overcome codependent behaviors and relationships. Since codependency is often seen in families and friends of addicted individuals, this fellowship is a great way for people to get the support they need.

Grief Recovery After Substance Abuse Passing (GRASP)

If you have lost a loved one to addiction, you know just how painful the process of grief and loss can be. GRASP is a support group designed to help individuals cope with the loss of a loved one who died due to addiction and/or overdose. GRASP can help support you and your family if you are dealing with losing a loved one to the disease of addiction.

Supporting an Addicted Loved One After Rehab

Addiction is not something that can be cured, but it can be managed on a long-term basis. With that said, supporting a loved one in recovery doesn’t end when rehab does. After your loved one is discharged from treatment, there are many other ways you can demonstrate your support, including:

  • Attending a support group for yourself and learning about the disease of addiction
  • Going to an open 12-Step meeting with your loved one
  • Practicing forgiveness and not placing shame or guilt on your loved one
  • Practicing open, honest communication in the home
  • Being client with problem-solving
  • Offering your support behind any of your recovering loved one’s recovery-related endeavors

Find Help for Yourself or an Addicted Loved One

Addiction is often referred to as a family disease because it affects everyone who loves the addict. If you have been affected by someone else’s addiction, you deserve care and support, too. Whether you need help convincing your loved one to go to rehab, want to get involved in your loved one’s recovery, or need to find support for yourself, our team at Moving Mountains Recovery Center is here to help.

Contact us today to see how we can assist you and your loved ones.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5781095/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8104924/

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