Having a family member struggle with substance abuse is not a position anyone wants to be in. Worrying about your loved one’s safety, blaming yourself for what is happening, and grieving a relationship that is becoming more and more strained are all complicated situations that are hard to deal with.
If you are in this position, you know firsthand that addiction takes a toll on the whole family, not just the person who is struggling with substance abuse. Tensions tend to rise, arguments increase, and trust is eroded. It might be hard to talk about what is happening with your loved one and even harder to ask for help and guidance from others. With this whirlwind happening, it is easy to feel lost and even helpless.
In reality, the family is anything but helpless. Family members are actually a crucial part of the recovery process. Often, it is a family member or other loved one who is the catalyst for an individual seeking treatment.
Interventions: Families in Action
An individual may not realize that their substance use has gotten out of control. They might underestimate the effects their use is having on their life and the lives of those around them. Or they may be aware of this but are unwilling to get help. Whether or not the individual is ready to seek treatment, as the people closest to this situation, you can be the ones to facilitate change by planning and executing an intervention.
An intervention is a way of sharing concerns about your loved one’s substance abuse and motivating them to take action. By learning more about addiction, how to talk about it, and how to treat it, you can help prepare your loved one to accept help and begin the journey to recovery. This might seem like a lot of pressure, but you are not alone. There are mental health professionals who can walk you through the process of staging an intervention and give you the tools you need for that important conversation.
An intervention might be an uncomfortable process. It involves setting boundaries and expectations, and when this is met with resistance from your loved one, it can feel like you are doing the wrong thing. In these moments, it is necessary to remember that allowing the substance abuse to continue is being complicit, not being compassionate. Even if your loved one is reluctant about treatment, treatment can still be effective; external pressure can actually increase success.
Being Active in Treatment
Once your loved one has accepted treatment, whether that was because of your intervention or for another reason, you do not have to watch from the sidelines. Choosing a treatment provider that offers family recovery programs can make it easier for you to walk beside your loved one as they recover. Family therapy provides a space to communicate openly, identify problems, and collaborate on solutions with the guidance of a trained professional.
During this process, you can also work independently with a therapist to process difficult emotions surrounding your loved one’s addiction and develop and practice effective coping strategies. Being willing to be vulnerable and work on yourself throughout this process can help you grow. It can also help you take better care of yourself while supporting your loved one as they work toward recovery.
Another way to stay involved in your loved one’s treatment is by participating in sober accountability. Some treatment providers will utilize sober monitoring technology so that individuals are able to test throughout the day and report results directly to the care team. This process means that you do not have to guess about your loved one’s sobriety, and it can help repair some of the trust that might have been lost.
Overall, the greatest way you can help your loved one is by trusting the process and supporting them through it. Keeping your expectations realistic can help with this. Treatment does not ensure that your loved one will never have a bad day; in fact, there will be many bad days, especially early on. Addiction is not just a habit; it is a biological and psychological disease, and it takes time to recover from.
Even with all the resources at their disposal, your loved one might have periods where they do not want to comply with treatment, or they relapse despite their best efforts. This might be frustrating to see, especially if you had hoped that the days of substance abuse were over. Your loved one needs support in these moments, and your love and encouragement will make all the difference.
The end of treatment does not mean that your loved one will have no issue staying sober. Treatment ending signals the early stages of recovery, where an individual learns to navigate the world without drugs and alcohol. It requires confronting people, places, and situations that trigger cravings and coping with those intense emotions without using.
Just as your loved one needed you during the intervention and treatment phases, they need you now. Continuing to support them by encouraging them, being a safe person to talk to, and reminding them of their coping skills and resources can keep them on the right path.
Even when you feel like you are out of options, you have the potential to help your loved one recover from substance abuse. The family is often the first line of defense, and you don’t need to be a bystander. Speaking with a mental health professional can guide you toward the right approach for your specific situation. At Family-Centered Services, we know this is an unfamiliar and delicate process, and it is our mission to make it as streamlined as possible. We provide intervention education to help you prepare, and comprehensive services like individual and family therapy, case management, and sober accountability throughout the process. Our Family Recovery Program is at the heart of what we do, and we are motivated to not only treat addiction but family struggles and concerns as well. Every family has a unique story, and we want to learn yours. Call us at (509) 991-5822.