The support of family and friends plays a huge role in addiction recovery. Family members often experience tremendous pain and unhappiness while dealing with loved ones in need of treatment for chemical dependency and/or compulsive gambling addictions. However, you can educate yourself and learn how to cope with the effects of addiction by listening to the experiences of other families that have gone through the struggles of watching those closest to them face addiction and enter recovery. By keeping an open mind and focusing on what you can control, you can improve your own situation and learn how to best support the rest of your family.
Listening to Experience
Many treatment facilities offer educational experiences for the families of addicts. Some centers bring in people from fellowships such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon to speak to family members. These groups offer support for family and friends that have dealt with the devastating effects of someone else’s addiction. There can also be members from Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous that share their success stories as well, offering hope and an opportunity to grasp the pain addicts go through when hurting themselves and their families.
Other treatment centers have counselors that can work with families, teaching them about the rehab process and what medical difficulties their loved ones are facing. Treatment facilities that cannot bring in fellowship members and counselors to address families can offer you information on nearby services, give out recovery literature and make recommendations on where to find help.
Focusing on Yourself
You may have developed an obsession with your addicted loved one to the point that all of your focus and attention went to the addiction. Learning that you cannot control a family member’s addiction is an important step for discovering how to give the right support.
Recovering addicts often speak of the loving encouragement they get from their families, particularly when their family members are focused on their own lives and health while offering compassion and understanding towards the recovering addict. However, the family members that try to control their loved ones, even after treatment, can end up enabling them and causing further unhappiness for themselves.
By shifting the focus from the addiction to your own life you can find peace from the effects of your family member’s addiction while also showing trust and care to your loved one. This process of letting go and focusing on yourself is one of the most difficult challenges families of addicts encounter. It is not easily done and does not happen overnight. The effects of family addiction did not change your life in a day but over a period of years. Your own recovery from these effects requires willingness and patience.
Many family members have tried to hide problems and prevent friends and others from finding out. By speaking openly with other people who have been through the same stress and faced the same anxieties, you can begin to release some of the buildup of feelings that have manifested from the effects of family addiction.
Getting involved with a family group such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon can help you share your own story in an anonymous setting, while speaking with counselors, therapists and doctors can give you an educated ear that will listen and understand. By working on open communication about the problems of family addiction you will learn new ways to speak to your addicted loved one, embodying empathy and encouragement while also doing what is best for your own health. It takes time and work, but with the proper support system you can get your life back and stop enabling the addict.
Project Turnabout offers bi-weekly family education days that provide valuable education on alcohol, drug, and compulsive gambling addictions, emotional support, as well as interactions with other families who are experiencing the same or similar issues. All sessions are facilitated by our Family Counselor or a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor from the program which is scheduled to participate. This opportunity is offered free of charge to everyone choosing to participate. For additional information, please click here.