Recovery is a very personal journey, but that doesn’t mean addiction develops in isolation. Even if an individual is hiding their use from friends, family, and loved ones, the effects of addiction still permeate these relationships, straining relationships and trust. However, involving family can also be a phenomenal recovery tool throughout the recovery process, offering a unique perspective of support and understanding that can be difficult to replicate.
While involving the family in one’s recovery comes with a degree of inherent vulnerability, it can also be used to bolster one’s strengths and provide important, unconditional support throughout one’s journey to sobriety.
Defining the Family
Family can mean different things for each person. While the image of a nuclear family is often the first thing one thinks of – a mother, father, husband or wife, and any siblings or children – this is not the only way in which a family can come together. Close childhood friends, professional peers who share life experiences and a close friendship, and even peers met in a recovery facility can all become part of one’s family, and there needn’t necessarily be any blood relation to those which one feels the closest.
One’s family in recovery can take a number of different forms, with the only prerequisite being that one shares an unconditional closeness and trust with those closest to them, and in return, receive a degree of understanding and support while tackling the difficult trials of recovery.
The Importance of Creating Your Family
There are numerous reasons for involving family in their recovery. Commonly, one’s family shares a living space with the individual, and it will be necessary to address this environment and atmosphere throughout recovery. One’s living space may hold close ties to one’s past use, whether with rooms where one would hide to drink or through trinkets, decorations, or other reminders of one’s use populating what should be relaxing spaces. Working with the family is essential to modify these environments to create a recovery-focused living environment for all, complete with boundaries and supportive imagery.
Families are also important for their ability to recognize change and progress. The recovery process is rough, with a number of ups and downs throughout the process, and it is difficult to keep track of the objective progress made in one’s strides towards sobriety. Families are in the unique position of knowing an individual intimately – their interests, ways of thinking, speaking, and daily routines.
Family members and other loved ones are also the best-equipped individuals to first recognize the profound changes in these aspects of one’s life, making them an invaluable perspective that should be acknowledged throughout the process. Knowledge of one’s past interests and hobbies can also create a powerful bridge to one’s new, sober identity, reinforcing interests and reconstructing old hobbies for a new identity.
Working to Construct Acceptance
The most important thing a family can do is educate and accept each other during these difficult times. No individual sets out to become addicted to any kind of substance, and understanding addiction as a disease can contextualize many of their experiences with a loved one. This also opens the door for deeper levels of understanding and trust – something pertinent to families of all kinds, from shift workers to first responders, business executives, and community figureheads.
Those with high-ranking positions can be highly susceptible to addiction while being forced to keep up an image of strength, trust, and control even to the detriment of their own mental health. Accepting these individuals as people with emotional needs and strains is essential in creating an effective atmosphere for healing. One of the greatest gifts families can provide for their loved ones is helping deconstruct stigmas and promote one’s need for vulnerability as a human need rather than something to be ashamed of or ignored.
Approaching a Family Program
Familial recovery programs are based on the idea of shared education and creating a safe space to speak about emotionally vulnerable topics, all in an effort to create a healthy atmosphere at home where both those who suffer from addiction and those supporting them all feel safe and comfortable during changing times. Focusing on aspects of emotional needs and communication, as well as setting up personal boundaries for all involved, these programs are essential in reaching a unified understanding and approach to the recovery process.
In particular, first responders, community figureheads, business executives, and other professionals may receive a great deal of praise from their families and communities for the service they provide. However, these families also have the opportunity to see them not as their public visage is constructed, but as the person underneath with their unique interests, goals, and personality. Embracing the family means embracing this side of recovery as well, opening up a new dimension of understanding, acceptance, and empowerment while pushing through the struggles of recovery and sobriety.
Involving family, in whatever form it may take, plays an integral role throughout the recovery process. Being able to provide a unique perspective and intimacy is crucial in developing effective supportive tactics, and we at Chateau Recovery understand the need to approach addiction and recovery in a unified, familial effort.