Helping a Family Member Find Recovery
September is National Recovery Month. With that in mind, we here at Gooding Wellness would like to speak on something we know a lot about: Getting your loved ones help with an addiction issue. This is a complex issue, but we’ve broken it down into two major parts to help you tackle it with ease and grace. This article will talk about the first part: Helping your loved one to seek and accept support in the first place.
Addiction is a disease that is cunning, baffling and powerful. It is filled with denial, justifications, rationalization and enabling behaviors for the one struggling with addiction and for the family surrounding the addict. It takes a lot for a person and a supportive family to swallow their pride and accept help for such a difficult and complex issue. Many times, the situation has been going on for years and there are layers of anger, shame and resentment complicating the road to recovery. There are a few things you should remember when trying to help your loved one.
First things first, you must always come from a place of love and concern. Loved ones hold a lot of influence in the life of someone who is struggling with substance abuse. An individual struggling with addiction is usually filled with guilt and remorse and doesn’t always respond well by feeling worse about themselves through judgment and criticism. When we recognize our loved one has a disease, we can recognize it is their illness that is causing the behaviors not that they lack character or will power. Their disease of addiction is responsible for the behaviors but that does not mean the individual shouldn’t be held accountable. Approaching a loved one with your concerns, as opposed to judgments, can help foster an atmosphere of open communication as opposed to continuing the cycle of avoidance, isolation and silent scorn. Even just sitting the person down and talking to them about concerns in a calm and clear way can have an influence. Repeatedly offering help in the form of social support, information on drug rehab programs, and other methods to get healthy may move the person to finally accept help.
The second thing is you must keep the one with addiction accountable. Loved ones often enable or make excuses for the addicts in their lives, because they think they are protecting them. Be mindful of this behavior. Facing up to the reality of a loved one with an addiction issue can be overwhelming and frightening. Family members often try to rescue their addicted loved one rather than allow them to feel the consequences of their behaviors. Other times, family members support the person’s addiction without even fully realizing it. While the family member generally engage these behaviors out of their love and concern for the addict, it often complicates matters and prolongs an individual from getting the help they need.
The third thing you must consider is getting support for yourself. Counseling isn’t just for the addict. Getting yourself support and guidance with a trained, licensed clinician is a great first step towards your own recovery process. There’s a lot that an experienced mental health professional can teach family members about dealing with a loved one’s addiction. The family’s understanding of addiction has a major impact on the addict’s ability to recover. We often remind families that it isn’t just the individual who needs to recover, but the entire family as a unit. There are also many organizations dedicated to helping and supporting families in these types of situations including Ala-non, Nar-anon and supportive community groups.
Submitted by Gordon Gooding, LCSW
Finally, always remember the three C’s: You can’t Cure it; You didn’t Cause it; You can’t Control it. You can only help steer them in the right direction to getting in control of their own thoughts and behaviors. If you have a loved one with addiction issues, always feel free to reach out to one of our experienced clinicians to get the support you need today.
Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction
Mountainside Treatment Center in Huntington, NY
Kenneth Peters Center for Recovery
Long Island Center for Recovery