Supporting Sobriety: 5 Ways to Positively Influence Your Loved One in Recovery
Addiction has negative impacts which go beyond the individual. Families and friends find their relationships have been twisted by the stress and pressure of dealing with substance abuse. Despite a genuine desire to help, they are often unsure how to support their loved ones’ early sobriety in Delray Beach.
Sober living communities strongly recommend family involvement in therapy and recovery; during residence, outpatient follow-up, and as an ongoing measure to rebuild relationships and preserve the progress made in early recovery. Parents, siblings, children, and partners all have a role in the addiction and a complete recovery.
Understanding how to change the family or relationship dynamic and achieve an environment that supports sobriety, honesty, and loving support for all family members is an empowering benefit of professional treatment programs for addiction.
These 5 ways to effect change will be a solid start to healing for the entire family.
1. Understanding Addiction
Learning what we can about addiction and the recovery process is the first way we show our support of the hard work our loved ones are doing in recovery. As they transition from sober living facilities back home, this knowledge helps us to have empathy and appropriate expectations for changes in the household.
Despite the stigma attached to openly admitting our families are affected by drug use, we are not alone in this challenge. Recent figures put drug use among those in their teens and twenties at 22.6 percent, and drug use rates are rising for people in their fifties and sixties as well.1 New research is providing better information about the causes, health impacts, and after-effects of addiction every day.
Consider making use of the educational resources available in your loved one’s treatment program and online education from reliable sources to better understand how addiction affects your family member mentally, physically, and spiritually. This understanding will prepare you for the reality of the recovery process and your vital role within it.
2. Recognizing Recovery Is an Ongoing Process
As residents leave RECO Institute’s Delray sober living homes, they are in the midst of a journey only they can complete. With new knowledge about the science of addiction and increased self-awareness of their own triggers and underlying stressors, they have the tools in hand to continue healing themselves and begin healing their relationships.
Our willingness as family members and loved ones to engage with them in a way that supports this process is just as essential as their efforts to redefine themselves. By being open and accepting of the mutual need to change, we make this process smoother and less stressful.
If we have fears or feel uncertain about trusting our loved ones in recovery, therapy will provide a healthy environment to bring those feelings out into the open as part of the healing process. Examining past behavior and acknowledging where improvement is needed is a transformative method not only for your recovering family members but for everyone who has been involved in the destructive cycle of addiction.
What Should I Do if a Relapse Occurs?
As part of this process, your loved ones may need to return to clean sober living to treat or prevent a slip or relapse. Accepting this possibility and being supportive should it occur will provide security to the people in recovery. Knowing that you will support this step rather than judge it a failure will provide your family members greater confidence as they step out on their own.
Here’s how you can help:
- Express Empathy. Let them know you admire the courage it takes to seek treatment, and that you will support them as long as they continue to stick with their treatment plans, even if they need to return to transitional living.
- Avoid Introducing Triggers. Ask your loved ones to share with you the triggers they have identified that cause cravings. Do all you can to help them avoid those triggers, and validate their need to leave a situation where triggers are present or if unexpected cravings arise.
- Be Optimistic. Let go of any lingering reluctance to believe change is possible. Many people recover successfully, and those in specialized treatment programs are far more likely to avoid relapse.3 Rather than worrying, make clear to your loved ones that you believe in their ability to triumph over the challenges.
- Empower Commitment. Refuse to enable a relapse or slip. Remind your family members of their commitments to you and themselves. Encourage them to get back on track immediately and use their recovery program tools to prevent or treat a relapse right away.
- Be the Change. Rather than simply encouraging healthy behavior, embrace it yourself. Take this opportunity to change your own eating habits and transform family behaviors in a healthy way. Remove addictive substances from your environment, change your diet and eat meals together, exercise as a family, and get plenty of rest.
3. Participating in Family Therapy
Drug addiction creates an unhealthy environment for relationships. Secrets, lies, distrust, regret, doubt, and guilt all play a role in breaking down communication and creating distance. Moving beyond what has happened in the past is not easy, but professional family therapy provides a safe place to rebuild strong relationships.
The NIH recognizes the importance of family therapy in improving outcomes and overall family functioning as part of treatment.2 By actively engaging in therapy, you can transform your relationships and increase the influence you have on the future of your family.
Some realizations may be personally difficult, but, while you gain awareness of the influence and impact of your own past behaviors, apply the same acceptance and forgiveness to yourself as you have for your recovering loved ones. We do what we know and, when we know better, we do better. This may be a valuable opportunity for all involved to find a better way to communicate.
4. Changing Family Dynamics
Acting on the insights we find in family therapy is the next step to supporting our family members in Florida sober living. Our willingness to fully accept our role in the old dysfunctional family dynamic and embrace meaningful change is perhaps the greatest commitment we can make—not only for our loved ones’ health but for the health of ourselves and our family.
Rather than cast blame at each other or ourselves, let’s take a clear look at the types of coping behaviors that might have developed in our own lives as we attempted to care for our loved ones and protect ourselves from the impacts of addiction.
Enabling or Codependent Behaviors
When we help our loved ones avoid the consequences of addiction, we are enabling their behavior. Keeping secrets or lying to help them cover up their drug use we might call loyalty, but, in fact, we are avoiding conflict by participating in an illusion of normalcy. Enabling not only delays treatment, it implies acceptance and consent and encourages addiction by supporting the addicts’ assertion that their behaviors are normal.
Codependent behavior goes beyond enabling to active participation in protecting the status quo, which includes addiction. From a misplaced sense of mutual need, we might not only allow drug use to continue but actively try to prevent our loved ones from seeking or completing treatment. The idea of changing the relationship dynamic by curing the addiction feels threatening.
If you recognize yourself in these descriptions, you are not alone. These emotional responses are a known part of addiction. With therapy and the desire to change, you can reverse your own behaviors and be the positive force you want to be in your loved ones’ lives.
Addiction has both a genetic and an environmental component. Research shows that children who grow up in sober homes are less likely to develop addictions later in life; however, 7.5 million children under the age of 18 reside in a home where at least one adult has a substance abuse disorder.4
If your family has a history of addiction, now is the time to break the cycle. One of the most supportive and transformative actions might be to recognize and treat all affected family members to establish a new legacy of healthy choices for the next generation.
5. Practicing Self Care
Ultimately, we are each responsible for our own wellbeing. If you have been caring for loved ones during addiction and recovery, you have every right to be exhausted. On any given day, you may not be up to the challenges of rebuilding your family and your relationships. Accepting your own human limitations is part of being a responsible human.
Reach out for the help and support you need. Your loved ones’ sober living treatment programs might offer an extensive array of opportunities to help you heal yourself. Support groups and outings can yield new friendships and ideas for improvement in daily life. Just airing your frustrations can be liberating and healthy.
You might want to talk to your own professional therapist or join an online forum with anonymous discussions. Whatever best recharges and rebuilds your own confidence and optimism should be high on your priority list.
You are tackling a courageous task as well. You are the family support for your loved ones, and you must care for yourself first, both as an example and an inspiration to them. Seeing you being healed from the damage caused by living with addiction will enable them to fully accept healing for themselves.
Strong Support Systems Are the Foundation of Long-Term Sobriety
The solid support of family will ease the challenges of early sobriety in Delray Beach. At RECO Institute, we include family in all phases of treatment and are committed to providing the most flexible opportunities for individual and family therapy. Our sober homes in Delray Beach offer a healing experience that transcends addiction.
We work in conjunction with RECO Intensive, our unique intensive outpatient program which smooths the transition from sober housing to sober living with programs that include family therapy, educational opportunities, and career resources. If you or your loved one needs help treating addiction, reach out and experience the caring support of RECO Institute today.