After living with our substance use, we may not want to ask our families for anything else. However, most family members love us unconditionally, and want to help us in this process. Recovery is such a difficult road, and it is ideal to not have to walk it alone. Even if our family cannot walk it for us, they can walk beside us. That said, how can our family support us in recovery?
Stop Enabling our Behaviors and Habits
One of the subtly destructive things that families can do is to enable us in our behaviors. Families who continue to give or loan us money, cars, housing, etc. during our substance use without us being held accountable are not doing us any favors. Often, they are building up emotional resentment about us, too, but don’t communicate their feelings.
As we are entering into recovery, that cycle needs to be broken so that we can learn accountability for our actions. The post-treatment us needs to work for everything, not be handed things. This may be more difficult for our family members to watch us struggle, but in the end, it is necessary if we are to maintain our recovery. It is also necessary for the family members to heal.
Learn More About Recovery
What goes on in our recovery? Do our family members and friends even know? How will treatment help our substance use? What is the rate of relapse? Will there be therapy or meetings after treatment? What can our families expect when we come home? There are so many questions that our families should be asking about our treatment and recovery process.
Learning about our recovery empowers them to support us in effective ways. Learning is power, and a family that learns everything they can about recovery is empowered to join us on team recovery going forward. Families who know are better able to help us stay on our recovery path.
Attend Family Therapy
When appropriate and possible, family members can attend family therapy at our treatment center. This gives family members the opportunity to learn more about what we are doing and where we are at, as well as a place for them to work through family issues that is safe and supportive for all family members.
Where this is not possible due to scheduling or restrictions on public gathering, families can seek therapy at a later time or through telehealth services. Being able to work through family issues at the heart of our own treatment is invaluable to our holistic healing.
Participate in Individual Therapy
Family members can also seek their own individual therapy to help them prepare for the changes in us. When there is one or more members of a family using substances, then there is bound to be some type of dysfunction as well. That will touch every family member in some way. Therefore, family members likely need to work on their own healing while we are in recovery.
Family members who strengthen themselves will also be better prepared to be flexible with us and the changes that we are making. Often, relationships struggle if one person goes through treatment and improves themselves, and the other person remains stagnant. It is helpful for us if family members are also improving themselves, and learning to be more flexible for our return.
Love Us Unconditionally
The one thing that any of us could ever hope for is to have family members who love us unconditionally. No matter what we have done, their hearts are open to us. They don’t need to give us permission or try to rationalize our behaviors. We may have done some terrible things in our substance use. Those things should not be dismissed or marginalized. A family that loves us will hold us accountable for what we do. They will also love us in spite of it.
Likewise, setting boundaries and consequences for our behaviors are not conditions, but rather loving us enough to hold us accountable. Our families show unconditional love when they can protect themselves from the pain we may inflict, while still treating us as human beings and even people they love. Behaviors may have consequences, but there are no conditions to our love.
How can our family support us in our recovery? They can learn when supporting means saying no. Families can learn the difference between embracing us and embracing our substance use. When our families learn more about our recovery and get involved by attending family therapy, even with virtual options, then they are supporting us in healthy, productive ways.
Our families can also find individual therapy to heal themselves from family and personal issues, particularly those issues caused by our substance use. The families that heal together are more likely to stay together. We can also stay together when there is love, unconditional love. We do not need our families to approve of the harmful things we have done, we only need them to accept us and support us as we step onto the road of recovery. When our families walk beside us on this path, we have the strength to accomplish anything.
Learn how families can support treatment for substance use at AToN Center. Call (888) 535-1516 today, and discover the difference between empowering and enabling. We believe that support from family can be the gamechanger in healing, and that unconditional love fosters a successful recovery.