7 Reasons Why You Should Participate in Your Loved One’s Treatment
Millions of Americans suffer from substance use disorders, but, for the 11% who go on to seek treatment, it’s not always the end. With family members often unaware of how addiction works, no support at home, and a return to nearly the same environment that drove substance abuse in the first place, many people often relapse. Treatment centers work to combat this by involving family, offering extended support outside of treatment with aftercare and facilities, and bringing family and friends into treatment.
The national picture of rehab or addiction treatment is often one of seclusion, where loved ones are locked away for 28 days or longer to face extensive counseling and group therapy. But, while some element of seclusion or removal from stress and substances to abuse is still often prevalent, research is more and more often showing that family and loved ones play a vital and important role in addiction treatment. Whether it’s your loved one’s first treatment or they’re reentering treatment after a relapse, addiction treatment must work to dismantle destructive or toxic family behaviors and dynamics in order for you and your loved one to move on.
Choosing to participate in your loved one’s treatment will improve their motivation, will help you to tackle problems and relationship issues caused by addiction, and does help family members to step out from under enabling behaviors, which they often build up over time. While there is no single family dynamic created by substance abuse and addiction, family therapy works to help every member of a family recover from the effects of addiction.
These 7 reasons why you should participate in your loved one’s treatment highlight the importance of getting treatment for yourself as well as for your addicted loved one.
1. Addiction Affects Everyone in the Family
Whether your family member is a spouse, lover, sibling, parent, or aunt or uncle, addiction affects everyone in the family. Persons suffering from substance dependence change, they fail to consider their family’s well-being, they react in negative and destructive ways, and they often manipulate and lie to get their way or more of a substance they are addicted to creating trauma, relationship changes, and stress for every other member of the family. Changes to family dynamic and hierarchy are especially crucial for those who are traditionally dependents or providers and who switch or subvert roles because of addiction. And, in cases where caretaking becomes enabling, family members must unlearn behaviors contributing to addiction in order to ensure that they do not contribute to a relapse.
Family therapy creates a safe space to identify and tackle family problems caused by addiction to both recognize how substance abuse plays a role in behavior patterns and actions, and to recognize the role they play in their loved one’s life.
2. Your Loved One Needs You
Overcoming substance addiction requires profound mental and physical strength. Detox is often painful and stretches out over weeks or months beyond when drugs or alcohol physically leave the system. Resisting cravings, fighting triggers, and unlearning old behavior require consistent mental resilience. Most of us are aware that we are stronger together, and that is truer in context of family and relationships. Supporting your loved one through treatment will help them to recover.
3. Family Involvement Increases Motivation and Outcomes
While not every family contributes to the mental wellbeing of their loved ones, family involvement in therapy and treatment often increases positive outcomes. Patients with strong relationships with (clean and sober) family members are more likely to feel motivated, inspired, and have something to work towards when loved ones are involved in treatment. With family members visiting, learning, and offering nonjudgmental listening, recovering addicts become more committed to change because they have consistent and frequent reminders of why they are changing.
4. Family Can Play a Role in Relapse
You would likely never intentionally push a loved one into relapse. But, factors including stress, tension, emotional instability, and negative emotions greatly contribute to relapse. Individuals who recover only to find that family cannot move on from treating them like an addict, or give them chances even when they are trying, are often pushed into relapse through a lack of understanding and social support. Participating in your loved one’s treatment gives you the tools and the training to understand what to expect, how to treat your loved one, and how you can play a role in their recovery by working to remove feelings of fear and anxiety, offering support and love but not help or rescue, and creating a positive environment where you allow your loved one to rebuild your relationship if they choose.
5. Learning Effective Communication is Crucial to Long-Term Recovery
Most families don’t communicate well or effectively, largely because many family members know each other too well, allowing them to make assumptions instead of listening and understanding. Family therapy works to provide a structured and supportive environment, where you can learn effective ways to communicate that don’t involve treating a recovering family member like an invalid. Moving beyond family traumas – especially childhood traumas that can lead to addiction – means discussing those traumas, addressing problematic and painful points in history, and actually moving past rather than ignoring emotional trauma and therapy will help.
6. The More Reluctant You Are to Join, The More Likely You Need It
If you feel as though you aren’t welcome, aren’t needed, or don’t need therapy yourself, chances are that you do. Family therapy and involvement in treatment work to remove and absolve feelings of guilt and blame, yours and theirs. If families are to work together, they have to know how each contributes to the larger piece of the puzzle, how time, energy, and money contribute to addiction, and how changing behavior patterns and relationships give each other a solid ground to move forward and heal.
7. Education Gives You Control Over Your Own Behavior
Most people know very little about addiction or how it affects the mind and behavior. Getting treatment with your loved one allows you to empower yourself to understand their actions and choices so that you can make better choices, more empathetic decisions, and build healthier boundaries. Educating yourself in family therapy and in support groups like Al-Anon give you the tools to understand your loved one and what they are going through, so that you can respond and react accordingly. This will give you a better space to take care of yourself as well as your loved one, so that both of you can heal. This is important because many family members often feel guilty or responsible for a loved one’s addiction. Getting help and learning to create healthy boundaries will allow you to work through the complexity of family relationships to take what is needed and reestablish healthy communication and behavior.
Addiction impacts everyone, it drains your time and energy, it causes you to stress, and it often strips you of a person you love and care about. When that person agrees to seek out treatment, it’s just the beginning of a long uphill battle. They may relapse, they may not always be grateful or thankful for your support, but by working together as a family, you can not only provide them the support they need to get clean or sober, but also the healing you need to recover.
Family dynamics in an addicted household are often complex. Family therapy can help you to recover family hierarchy, to rebuild communication, and to unlearn negative or toxic family dynamics like unhealthy modes of communication learned during addiction. Being there, taking part in therapy, and getting help and therapy for your own as well as their problems will help you to rebuild as a stronger family, more capable of supporting each other, and more capable of creating an environment in which your loved one can heal.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors, we’re here to help. Beginnings Treatment Centers is located in beautiful and sunny Southern California in Orange County, which has one of the most active and best recovery communities in the United States.