The journey of overcoming the use of drugs or alcohol takes immense personal effort. Likewise, an individual walking this journey will likely face many challenges along the way. It is important to understand that addiction is never a truly isolated disease. Addiction is often termed a “family disease” because the varying effects of substance use tend to impact all family members. Therefore, healing from addiction requires an individual to address the myriad of effects that substance use has caused on their life as well as the lives of those closest to them.
The Effects of Addiction on the Family
Those struggling with addiction often feel the effects of the disease in isolation. Some may erect barriers around themselves as they are under the impression that no one could possibly understand their battles with substance use disorder (SUD). Although addiction can bring intense feelings of isolation, the effects of addiction are often felt throughout an entire family.
When a family member struggles with addiction, it affects the entire household in varying ways. Families may feel as if they must change the way they speak or behave to accommodate for pervasive mood swings, irritation, or anger that can manifest as a result of addiction.
When families feel like their home has been compromised or that they have to treat lightly in their words or behaviors, it can significantly impact the mental and emotional health of the entire household. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, resentment, and more throughout the entire family.
Many family members may also take on enabling behaviors. Family members may feel compelled to cover their loved one’s financial costs by using their own money for another’s groceries, rent, bills, or other needs. Additionally, some may have their work performance or attendance compromised by their use of addictive substances, making it difficult to hold down employment. These situations can directly impact family members’ personal and professional lives as well as their mental health.
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Engaging in Family Healing
As addiction can have severe consequences on the lives of all family members, making an effort to heal as a family is crucial. Even when a family member is pursuing treatment at a center for alcohol and drug treatment and developing their own recovery strategies, effective family healing is a group effort. Families must heal together to effectively address the effects that addiction has had on each member.
Start Family Traditions
Getting the family involved throughout recovery is crucial. While families can provide amazing support during an individual’s recovery, it is also important to start new traditions to foster recovery success. Starting new traditions in sobriety, such as celebrating holidays in a new way or starting a movie or game night, can have many transformative effects.
Not only can these traditions showcase a family member’s continued progress in their sobriety, but they also offer ways to distance themself emotionally from triggering traditions of the past. These all help to create a new atmosphere and relationship in sobriety.
Keep Communication Open
Communication is a core part of any relationship. Continuing to engage with family in sobriety is important. For some, this means making an active effort to reach out to family members daily through a phone call or text message. Not only can this help deepen these relationships, but it also keeps these channels active for all family members whenever any member may need support.
Regular family meetings can also ensure that there is a safe space to bring up concerns. Having an open, honest dialogue about recovery for the entire family throughout each stage of recovery is essential.
Self-care is a core part of a healthy lifestyle, both for those in long-term sobriety and for those navigating the stresses of daily life. While family members are great supports for continued sobriety, family members also need to participate in their own forms of self-care. By setting times when family members can engage in their own hobbies or creating a schedule of self-care practice, individuals can ensure that there is always time for each family member to attend to their own well-being.
Gratitude is a powerful tool in recovery. For those continuing to adapt to a sober lifestyle, it can be important to step back and acknowledge how far one has come. Likewise, it is important to appreciate those who helped along the way.
Expressing gratitude to family members for their support can be instrumental in one’s recovery journey. Likewise, it can ensure that the positive elements of an individual’s transformation remain the most prevalent thoughts in their mind. This not only helps to continue motivating entire families to focus on recovery but also to highlight family members’ continued progress in sobriety.
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Engage in Family Programs
Dedicated family recovery programs are essential. Similarly, having trained professionals available to address the familial effects of addiction is paramount. Many family members have been affected by addiction in a number of ways. Family programs offer a safe space for honest, healing conversations to take place. Professional help may be required to address family concerns, learn how to continue healing as a family, and celebrate the support and care of family members.
Families and individuals are both affected greatly by addiction, and the disease carries many connotations and dangers for all involved. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we understand that truly transformative, effective recovery involves the entire family, and continuing your healing journey and involving the family in your sober efforts is essential. We invite the opportunity to help you continue navigating your sober life as an alumnus while finding new ways to facilitate family healing. Our unique approach to rehab in Hawaii can be personalized for your needs and goals. For more information on our comprehensive treatment centers in Hawaii or how we can continue to support you through our aftercare and outpatient programs, call us today at (866) 390-5070.