Overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction starts with you. The healing process requires acknowledging your problem and committing to embracing treatment and the challenges it brings. On this long and winding journey, you are the main character and must participate in every scene.
Yet, this does not mean that you should do this alone. Getting support from family, friends, therapists, and the recovery community is widely recognized as being essential to beating addiction for good. This article discusses the importance of support systems in recovery and the ways family members can participate.
A Support System Helps You Succeed
Why is support so important? SAMHSA explains that community is one of the four key dimensions of recovery. Meaningful relationships and involvement in the community can offer the friendship, love, and hope you need to maintain sobriety. While you need to have faith in yourself for change, the presence of friends and family cheering you on help keep you motivated to leave old narratives behind.
Encouragement can also come from faith groups, peers in recovery, colleagues from work, and health providers like therapists. Overall, support systems can facilitate health and resilience by helping you manage physical and psychological symptoms, maintain abstinence, and gain access to resources like housing, employment, and education. These resources will facilitate your fresh start once you’ve received treatment and are enrolled in an outpatient/aftercare program.
The Value of Relationships and Belonging
In mutual support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other 12-Step programs, members share stories that you may relate to. These stories contain knowledge and skills learned from experience that you can apply to your own situation. You will also have the opportunity to share your own challenges and hopes for the future. Participating in a 12-Step group can help you to feel understood and valued despite what you tell yourself.
The role of fellowship in promoting a sense of belonging, social inclusion, and community is invaluable. This review article elaborates on other benefits. Peer support groups have resulted in higher abstinence rates, greater satisfaction with treatment, and lower rates of suffering from relapse and experiencing homelessness. Significant reductions in alcohol and drug use were highlighted not only in mentees but in mentors as well.
Considering the Role of the Family Unit
The participation of the family unit is often crucial for a person to fully recuperate from a substance use disorder. A dysfunctional household or family trauma may be why a person started drinking or using drugs in the first place. In other words, they may be a part of the problem. Feeling trapped, unsafe, or rejected in your own home can be unbearable.
If you go through treatment but return to the same unstable environment where toxic relationships thrive, you could be at serious risk of relapse. Depending on the severity of your situation, your therapist may suggest family therapy or alternative living arrangements that will keep you safe and sober.
Perhaps your family has healthy dynamics and wants to help you however they can. Dealing with addiction can be really hard for family members, though. They might not fully understand the nature of your condition nor how to help you manage it. Loved ones who become heavily involved in your recovery may be struggling with their own guilt, stress, fears, and shame. They may respond negatively by withdrawing or avoiding the conversation. When it comes to an alcohol use disorder, research shows that these behaviors are actually associated with more drinking.
What to Expect in Family Therapy
Family therapy can support your family’s health and well-being so they can support you. It is a chance to ask questions, improve communication, and work on negative behavioral patterns within the family system. By understanding the nature of the patient’s condition and examining their own behaviors and emotional reactions, family members can develop new coping skills to manage themselves more effectively.
Many rehabilitation centers offer families the opportunity to engage with the patient in treatment. Education on SUDs is a core component of this type of therapy. Family members will learn about:
- Symptoms, causes, and effects of the SUD
- Various treatments available
- Challenges the patient will likely experience
- Triggers of relapse
- The impact SUDs have on families
Families will also learn about resources, like professional services and mutual support programs, that are available to help them care for themselves. There are groups like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon that were specifically created to support family and friends. Mutual support groups provide an opportunity for families to focus on their individual needs and to make positive changes.
Conquering an addiction starts with your willingness to participate in the recovery process. However, mutual aid groups and your family are key to getting you the support you need to stay motivated. As the Big Island’s premier substance abuse treatment facility, Hawaii Island Recovery is here to help. We understand what it’s like to battle addiction. You may feel lonely and misunderstood, and this is why community support is so important. Without it, you can be at risk of relapsing. To ensure that you get the attention you need, we keep our program load small, with a maximum of eight patients. Moreover, our outpatient and aftercare programs concentrate on relapse prevention, including family support systems, 12-Step meetings, and group therapy sessions. Hawaii Island Recovery is committed to providing patient-centered care in a safe, supportive, and structured environment. We’ll be waiting to hear from you. Call us with questions at (866) 390-5070.