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Having a loved one who struggles with substance abuse issues can affect the entire family. Addiction within the family can change the dynamic, decrease the level of trust, and diminish communication. More than that, family members often feel hopeless while watching a loved one struggle with addiction and not knowing how they can help their loved one.

Recovery for a loved one and the family is a lifelong journey. Many treatment centers stress the importance of family support to help an individual recover and stay substance-free. Fortunately, there are many ways a family can help their loved ones before and after treatment. Help is not enabling; family support does not mean that families need to accept active addiction in their homes or lives to be supportive. Families are most supportive when they can focus on their needs while being compassionate to those struggling with substances or alcohol.

How to Help Before Addiction Treatment

While someone may deny or downplay their addiction, it is essential to recognize the warning signs of substance abuse early. Addiction and alcoholism are progressive diseases. So, the earlier one receives treatment, the better chance they have of avoiding some consequences such as a DUI or other arrest. Some of the most common warning signs of addiction include:

Warning Signs

  • Isolating themselves
  • Tensions in relationships
  • Risk taking behaviors
  • Defensiveness
  • Intense mood swings
  • A lack of motivation
  • A lack of personal hygiene
  • Neglect of physical appearance

Interventions

Interventions occur when family members realize that their loved one is spiraling out of control and want to do something to help. The goal is that both parties will speak constructively and openly about their feelings, and their loved one will take steps towards recovery.

To ensure a successful intervention, families should reach out to a professionally trained intervention specialist to start the conversation between the family members and the person with a substance use disorder. It is important to have arrangements with a treatment center to accept the loved one if they agree.

How to Help During Addiction Treatment

Family Therapy

Addiction rehab is often the best treatment for someone, and supportive family members enhance the benefits. When family members are encouraged to participate in therapy, the family can become stronger, and extra family encouragement may motivate them to complete their treatment and remain sober.

Therapy sessions that involve the whole family can facilitate ways to overcome past conflicts. With professional help during the rehab process, family members can understand each other and heal together. These sessions can also help create a solid foundation for positive communication for the future to ensure long-term success.

Family therapy also provides the opportunity to help family members understand their loved one’s addiction and how their actions, such as enabling, impact that person and themselves. Therapy can open the discussion about addiction or alcoholism, so the person in treatment feels more comfortable talking honestly, especially knowing they have the support of their family.

If even family members do not participate in therapy, they can support their loved one’s recovery.

How to Help After Addiction Treatment

Because the road to recovery is a life-long journey, the time spent in a rehab facility is only a small fraction compared to the time spent after treatment. It is an adjustment for someone who has used drugs and/or alcohol to leave the relative safety of treatment and return to life without using drugs or alcohol. Family members can take time and educate themselves on how to best support their loved ones when they come home from treatment.

Leaving treatment can be overwhelming and scary. It is easier to stay sober when substances aren’t available than when they are. It will take time to establish routines, develop a self-help meeting schedule, and perhaps deal with the impact of using substances on relationships with loved ones. People will often act differently now that their body is no longer being affected by substances and sometimes will be quieter and more reserved. Families should not rush their loved one to jump back into their previous routines; it may take time to process their new world.

Also, to help someone in recovery, family members can help reduce the stress and conflict in their lives. While re-adjusting to home, it is a lot for an individual to work full-time, take care of children, and maintain a household without alcohol or drugs. Supporting them as they ease into daily life can reduce their stress and help them avoid a relapse.

Finally, joining support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or any alternative program is another way to prevent relapse, and families should encourage participation. This may involve reminding them of the meeting, giving them a ride, or understanding this community of individuals with shared experiences can help them stay healthy.

You may benefit from a program such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. These groups are for families or anyone that has a person with a substance use disorder in their lives. Ala-teen is also available for teenagers, typically up to the age of nineteen who may also have a parent or sibling struggling with drugs or alcohol. There are also many places that will hold simultaneous meetings. If you are driving your loved one to an AA meeting, and there is one, it would be a great chance to attend an Al-Anon meeting.

Loving a person with a substance or alcohol use disorder can be challenging for everyone. If you have any questions about playing a positive, active role in your loved one’s recovery journey, please reach out to us today.