If someone in your family is living with addiction, your family most likely is experiencing many changes. These changes are typically unpleasant and distressing, and it can be hard to cope with them. It can feel like you will never get your old life back, and the future might feel uncertain or even dismal.
What Changes Can I Expect?
When you love someone struggling with substance abuse, the changes in your family can be gradual. These changes may even begin to happen without you realizing it. For example, your loved one may have been struggling with substance abuse privately. It might be evident that your relationship has changed, but you are unable to identify the cause.
If you are aware of their substance use issues, you may have tried to help them by encouraging them to get help. In the event that your loved one is unwilling to seek treatment, this can strain the relationship on both ends. Furthermore, some of the trust may have eroded, leaving you both unable to be honest with each other. Frustration, anger, sadness, anxiety, and guilt can replace previously positive emotions.
Other changes can happen suddenly. This could be the case in a crisis situation, such as if your loved one overdoses or requires emergency medical attention. These events happen in the blink of an eye and can have lasting repercussions. In situations like these, it is necessary to act quickly, and it is only after the fact that you may realize the impact on your family.
Even good change can be difficult to cope with. When your loved one starts to get help, this signals a new set of changes and a new reality for your family. Your loved one may have to move away for residential treatment for a period of time. This can create changes in the functioning of the home. Certain responsibilities and obligations that your loved one held may have to be redistributed. When your loved one comes back home, new routines will need to be established to support their recovery. There will be a lot of trial and error as family members navigate this new territory.
Building Resilience and Coping
Even as your family is facing these changes, you need not lose hope. There are steps your family can take to cope with changes and build resilience in the face of adversity. Between building a support network, seeking professional support, and practicing self-care, there are strategies that can help make this adjustment period manageable.
One of the most important things to remember during this time is that you need to care for yourself. Between supporting your loved one as they go through treatment, taking care of the rest of your family, and keeping up with your other obligations, it can be challenging to keep everything afloat. Taking the time to meet your basic needs will give you the energy to meet new needs as they arise. Trying to maintain everything while being exhausted and worn out can make a difficult situation feel impossible.
Go to Family Therapy
Family therapy can help your family adapt to the changes you have been experiencing. While it is crucial for your loved one to work with a licensed professional to work toward recovery, a therapist can help others in your family as well. A therapist can work with the family unit to strengthen communication skills, build healthier patterns of behavior, and resolve painful emotions. Even in such difficult times, your family has inherent strengths. A therapist can help you to build on those to support resilience and well-being.
Family therapy presents the opportunity for an individual’s family to take an active role in their treatment. This can provide much-needed support to someone undergoing treatment while also empowering family members in a situation that can feel out of their control. Individual family members can also work independently with a therapist to address their specific concerns.
Everyone’s relationship with the loved one with substance abuse is different, and this requires a different approach in each case. While family therapy can help the family as a whole and the relationships that exist between members, there are many complicated emotions and concerns that can arise on the individual level.
Connecting with others who have been in your position can help you find a path forward. You can find communities of people who have experienced similar situations through support groups like Al-Anon. You might feel alone in what your family is experiencing, and interacting with other people who have first-hand experience with a loved one’s substance abuse can reduce those feelings of isolation. Some members may be able to share what they have learned over the course of their loved one’s addiction and how their families have coped. While everyone’s circumstance is different, and what works for one family may not work for another, this can be an opportunity to explore different ideas you had not considered.
Addiction has the capability to change everything in your family’s life. These changes can develop over the years or overnight. No matter how big or small these changes are, you don’t have to allow addiction to have that control over your family. There is help available not only for your loved one but for everyone involved. Family-Centered Services is dedicated to helping your family through this difficult time so that you can come out stronger on the other end. We offer intervention education and preparation, individual and family therapy, a Family Recovery Program, treatment center placement consultation, and sober accountability services. Call FCS at (509) 991-5822 today to learn how life can improve for you and your family.