Family Support

As part of the 2009 Treatment Episode Data Set, researchers attempted to determine how often people achieved a sustained recovery when they got care for addiction in outpatient programs. Here, researchers found that those who were referred to care by their employers or by the criminal justice system were more likely to complete their programs than people who entered treatment via other methods.

It’s possible that these people had compelling and pressing reasons for completing care, as they knew they’d lose their job and/or their freedom if they quit early. But an arrest or a work order isn’t the only thing that can motivate an addicted person to stay enrolled in care. For some, family support is the key ingredient that leads to long-term success.

New Habits

family supportPeople who continue to live at home during their treatment program are, obviously, in need of help from their families. They’re in danger of returning to the habits that once fostered the addiction, and they may have dark days and nights ahead in which a return to use seems preferable or even likely. While no one expects family members to treat an addiction on their own, there are some things family members can do that might increase the chances of success for the family member in their midst.

For example, in a study in the journal Addictive Behaviors, researchers suggest that spouses of people who drink tend to engage in behaviors that might facilitate a drinking habit. They might make excuses for alcoholic binges, for example, or soothe the physical pain people feel after a night of drinking. These behaviors make drinking just easier to accomplish, and they keep the drawbacks of an addiction easier to handle. Changing these sorts of habits might be vital to long-term success in an addiction treatment program.

Some families are asked to participate in group counseling sessions alongside the addicted person. These sessions allow the whole family to come to a deeper understanding of the addiction process, and the group may have the opportunity to form new behaviors and communication styles. These sessions may also allow families to process the traumatic events that may have taken place due to the addiction. All of this work can lead to a robust recovery for the family, but it could also be vital for the addicted person. With this help, a person can return home to a family that is able to communicate and be supportive, and this might help the person avoid a return to substance abuse.

Listening and Sharing

People with addictions often have a significant amount of information they’re working through and processing. At times, they may want to share that information with the people they love. At other times, they may want to think over the details before they choose to discuss them openly. It can be hard for family members to know exactly where the person they love falls on this spectrum, but they can help by asking open-ended questions, such as:

  • Is there anything you’d like to talk about?
  • You seem upset; do you feel like sharing?
  • Did something happen today that has you concerned?
  • Is there something I can do to help right now?

Expressions of love might also be useful and helpful. Sometimes, people just need to know that their families care and that love is abundant inside the family home, no matter what might be happening.

special helpSpecial Help for Special Circumstances

Some people with addictions just can’t live at home while they’re getting help, and even when their programs are complete, they might need a safe and sober place to live outside of the family home. These people might choose to live in sober homes, allowing them to live with other people who are also in recovery from addictions. Supporting someone who doesn’t live within the same home can be difficult, and there are special challenges for people who are trying to support someone living in a sober home.

According to a study in the journal Qualitative Health Research, people who live in sober homes sometimes form family-like relationships with other residents, and some people who live in these homes may even work to integrate some residents into their own families. The family might be tempted to view these new additions as interlopers or as competition, but this can be incredibly damaging to the person in recovery. To this person, the other members of the sober home are important and vital. They should be respected as a result. Families that can’t quite accomplish this shouldn’t feel guilty for their feelings, but they might consider seeking their own counseling. In private sessions, they may be able to examine the issue a bit deeper, without ruining the relationship the family has with the person in recovery.

Learning and Growing

Addictions are complex problems, and it’s not unusual for families of people in recovery to have lengthy questions about how recovery should work and what it might mean to them. Family members might consider joining their own 12-step group, such as Al-Anon, in order to get answers. Here, they can meet the families of others who are struggling with addiction, and they can learn more about how addictions work and how they can impact the entire family. Most communities have at least one such meeting each week, and they’re often free to attend.

If you’d like to start your learning process by investigating rehab and aftercare programs, please call us. We’re happy to discuss our programs and answer any questions for you.