Family involvement in your addiction treatment is essential for helping the whole family recover, and it provides you with a strong support system that can help prevent relapse. Here’s why your family should be involved in your treatment.
Addiction Is a Family Disease
Addiction is a family disease, according to the National Council on Alcohol Abuse and Drug Dependence.1Addiction leads to unhealthy coping behaviors as routines are disrupted and unsettling experiences prevent normal, healthy family interactions. Repairing damaged family relationships and improving the functioning of the family system is essential for successful recovery.
Family involvement in your addiction treatment isn’t just about support, although family support is important while you’re in treatment. It’s also about helping family members identify their own dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns that may have resulted from living with addiction. Family involvement enables each member to better support you during the early weeks and months of recovery.
Co-dependence and Enabling Behaviors
Co-dependent behaviors occur when family members attempt to adapt to dysfunction in the family but lose touch with their own needs and desires in the process. Co-dependent behaviors that family members may develop include:
- Worrying constantly about the consequences of the addiction
- Living in denial, characterized by lying to friends and other family members about the extent of the addiction
- Neglecting one’s own physical, emotional and spiritual needs in favor of worrying about the addicted family member
- Engaging in unhealthy coping behaviors, such as emotional eating, internet addiction or excessive shopping
Enabling behaviors support a loved one’s substance abuse and boil down to helping the addicted family member escape the consequences of the addiction. Enabling behaviors include:
- Using drugs or alcohol with an addicted family member so that you can keep an eye on things
- Keeping feelings inside to avoid upsetting the addicted family member
- Minimizing the addiction, such as by thinking that it could be worse
- Protecting the addicted family member by taking over his or her responsibilities and minimizing the consequences of the addiction
- Going out of the way to make it appear as though everything is fine
Ending these unhealthy behaviors improves relationships, and it helps your family members support you in healthy ways during your recovery. Family involvement in your addiction treatment helps the whole family recover from the effects of the addiction. It helps reduce stress and strife in the household, which goes a long way toward preventing a relapse.
What Family Involvement in Your Addiction Treatment Looks Like
A high-quality treatment program will include family therapy as part of its programming. Healthy family relationships are central to successful recovery, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and working through problems and issues together improves family functioning.2
Workshops for family members help them understand how addiction and relapse work, and they help family members understand the best ways to support you in recovery. Encourage your family members to participate in the family programming offered through your treatment program.
Family involvement in your addiction treatment should also include individual therapy for family members so that they can work through their own issues regarding the addiction. Engaging with a support group is also an invaluable way for family members to get involved in your treatment. A support group gives family members a safe place to express difficult emotions like fear, guilt and anger. It also helps them develop healthy coping skills as well as offers support during rough times.
Involving your family in your addiction treatment can go a long way toward helping you successfully recover for the long-term, and it can bring the family closer together as you work to improve your relationships and achieve your goals.