Learning to manage substance use disorder (SUD) is a long, arduous journey. Due to actions or behaviors, while abusing substances, some people damage relationships with loved ones along the way. Everyone who embarks on the journey of SUD recovery needs support. If you have family or friends who do not believe you about your disorder or you have damaged relationships, you may need to do some work to get your loved ones involved in your recovery.
Understanding Substance Use Disorders
The first step in getting your loved ones involved in your recovery is ensuring you understand SUDs and the recovery process. SUDs are a compulsive addiction to use drugs or drink alcohol despite health, social life, or work consequences.
Long-term drug and alcohol use will change how the brain functions, affecting how the body operates throughout the day. Substances will also change the way people feel emotions and physical sensations. Alcohol and drugs also affect people’s emotions, overloading the brain with chemicals. This can eventually make someone numb to emotions because their brain cannot process them properly.
The Role of Family in Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery
It is well documented that family support in substance abuse treatment is beneficial to individuals. Family, or loved ones in general, can help a person realize their strength and provide hope to reach sobriety.
Because substance abuse can lead to damaging relationships with the family, recovery needs to focus not only on the individual who needs healing but also on the role of the family. Additionally, a trauma in the family can lead someone to abuse substances. Learning to grow healthy, supportive relationships with loved ones in recovery is important for sustainable healing.
Practical Suggestions to Involve Friends and Family in Your Recovery
Not everyone will begin SUD treatment with the support of their family. However, if you have a goal to get your family involved in your life and recovery, here are five suggestions for getting your family involved in your treatment.
Making sure you and your loved ones are educated about substance abuse and addiction can help eliminate critique or misunderstandings. If a person thinks that someone chooses to drink, for example, and develops SUD because of their choices, they will be judgemental and counterproductive to healing. Educating yourself and your loved ones, you combat misconceptions about SUDs and how one heals.
However, if that same person understands that SUDs are sometimes developed due to genetics or trauma experiences in childhood, then they may have more sympathy for someone managing SUD. This can lead to healthier, kinder relationships.
#2. Family Therapy
Families play a significant role in who a person becomes, what they like, and dislike, and their beliefs and morals. During childhood, when an individual’s brain is in its crucial developmental years, their families are the first people they are socialized to. They teach individuals how to walk, talk, and interact with others before they ever interact.
Because family is influential in who someone becomes and if that person develops a SUD, family involvement in recovery is equally important. To get loved ones involved in your recovery, try getting them involved in family therapy. This will allow all parties to acknowledge and process experiences or negative emotions between family members. A person may create a stronger recovery by confronting underlying problems with loved ones.
#3. Public Therapy Groups
Family members can attend therapy groups with you to get involved in your recovery. Public meetings like Alcohol Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or Al-Anon allow someone to hear other perspectives on substance abuse.
During meetings, people will share their stories of what led them to abuse substances and share daily struggles with cravings and temptations. When family members do not understand what living with SUD is like, they may carry misconceptions and create false judgments. Inviting loved ones to attend public support groups allows them to develop an understanding.
Sadly, family tends to hold on to ideas of you, regardless of whether you have changed. By hearing stories of addictions from others, the family may release someone of those personal judgments based on who you were.
#4. Encourage Self-Care First
If you have ever been on an airplane, safety demonstrations are always before take off. One of the essential instructions is that if the airbags come down, secure your air mask first before securing the mask of children or family members. This scenario becomes a metaphor for taking care of yourself first before helping others. If you cannot breathe, you won’t be able to help someone else get air.
To get loved ones involved in your recovery, you need to encourage them to take care of themselves first. Without hope and encouragement from others, a person in SUD treatment may struggle to recognize their self-worth or acknowledge their successes.
#5. Understand Everyone’s Feeling Are Valid
Another way to get family or friends involved in your recovery is to make sure that everyone understands their feelings are valid. People may have experienced harm from your words or actions while abusing substances. Someone must be able to feel their emotions, regardless if those feelings will make you feel guilty or sad.
By listening and encouraging your loved ones to share their feelings and experiences with you, you open a dialogue and a safe space. This may allow you to develop better relationships with your loved ones, who can offer support for a more sustainable recovery.
Do you want your family involved in your recovery but don’t know how to start the conversation? Do you have a conflict with your loved ones you want to explore in therapy? Laguna Shores Recovery Center offers a variety of treatment programs and therapies, including experiential therapy, 12-Step programs, family therapy, and more. Working with our experienced staff, you will receive conventional and alternative approaches to care for your specific needs. We can help you on the journey to bettering your relationships with your family. As a result, they may become more involved in your recovery. For more information on our treatment options, call Laguna Shores Recovery Center at (866) 774-1532.