The road to recovery for an addict is a long and difficult one. Relapse rates are high, with alcohol addiction alone having a $30 billion price tag in health care each year. After initial rehab, the real work of maintaining sobriety and rebuilding life begins. The addict must go back into society, often to the same place where the addiction developed. That environment can be full of familiar places, people and things that trigger substance abuse, purely out of memory and force of habit.
Why is Family Support So Important?
Part of the reason family support is so important to recovery has to do with the reasons addiction began in the first place. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs can be an escape from emotional or physical pain at work or at home. It’s an escape that turns into a trap. As addiction grows, feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness and isolation develop, making it harder to admit the problem and seek help. Often, it’s the family that encourages and even demands that addicts seek treatment. Whether it simply happens in a family meeting or through a guided intervention, that support can be the turning point that saves a life sliding toward destruction. Some rehabilitation programs report a 90 percent success rate for intervention when the addict’s family is informed, educated and involved.
What Is The Role Of Family In Recovery?
Reinforcing positive behavior, modeling sober lifestyles, being available to talk and working through the damage to relationships caused by addiction are all important roles that a family can play in recovery. Though recovering substance abusers are frequently encouraged to seek out support groups and meetings in the community, there are still long hours to be spent at home. Filling those hours with positive family activities creates a healing atmosphere. Many addicts also suffer from long-term malnutrition, and a steady diet of healthy meals does much to improve energy, physical health and state of mind during recovery.
What Are The Benefits For Family Members?
Whether the substance involved is an illegal drug, prescription painkiller or inhalant, addiction is a disease that affects everyone in the household. Nearly 100 percent of the parents of addicts believe the addiction is their fault. Damage to parents, children, marriages and sibling relationships begins with a loss of trust. In time, that trust can be rebuilt. Seeing a loved one recover, succeed and thrive is not only incredibly rewarding, but makes it easier for relationships to heal and begin to move forward again. For relationships that are too damaged to heal, closure and peace, even forgiveness can be gained. All of these things hold tangible, positive benefits for family members.
What Can A Family Do To Aid Recovery?
• Make strong decisions and follow through. Only 10 percent of family members who call to schedule an intervention go through with it. Statistics show that when they do, it almost always results in the addict entering treatment.
• Learn the triggers for addiction and remove them from the home environment. They are different for everyone, so you will need to explore them individually.
• Educate yourself and family members about addiction. The more you know, the better prepared to help you will be.
• If you provide financial support, offer only what is essential for healthy, productive living.
• Resist enabling behaviors, such as making excuses for an addict or softening the consequences of addictive behavior.
• Take care of yourself. Staying active, engaged in outside activities and relationships and maintaining your own health and self-esteem will set a good example for recovery.
How To Get Started
Of 23.5 million Americans ages 12 and up who needed treatment for substance abuse in 2009, only 11 percent received treatment at a rehab facility. Relapse rates range from 50 to 90 percent. In the face of these daunting statistics, there’s simply too much at stake not to seek help. When an addict begins recovery, families must recover, too.
Recovery for your family and your loved one will be a long and sometimes difficult process. Another key thing to remember is that while families play a supportive role, they cannot cause, control or cure addiction. At the end of the day, the addict determines his or her own path, but, as with any journey, that path is easier when not traveled alone.