When someone is suffering from a substance use disorder, everyone around them feels the pain.
Parents, children, spouses, siblings, and grandparents alike will struggle with the effects of their loved one’s addiction.
Attending therapy sessions specifically designed for those coping with an addict in their family can open the pathways to healing. Starting a sober life after battling through a substance use disorder is always more successful when there is a strong support system in place. Sometimes for this support system to become strong, it needs guidance and recovery of its own.
There are many aspects to family therapy and counseling as it relates to substance misuse rehabilitation. Healing needs to occur from the situations the substance use has interfered with and trust needs to be reestablished. Any learned behaviors or coping mechanisms for dealing with the substance use of a loved one (primarily for children of addicted parents) or enabling behaviors need to be targeted and worked against.
Through all of this, however, is the final goal of providing a healthy and loving environment for the rehabilitated person to grow and recover in after leaving the treatment facility. Learning how to help in the recovery journey is a bonding opportunity, and when it is successful, it can mean growing as a healthy, sober family with a much lower chance of relapse for the addict.
Working Toward Forgiveness
While those you love are in rehab, you have a perfect time to be introspective about what led up to this point. There are many painful moments that have stemmed from your loved one’s substance abuse that affect how you handle situations going forward. There are scars that have been left behind by situations that need to be tended to before healing can begin.
Forgiving things from the past does not mean that they no longer hurt. It does not mean that you condone what happened or are okay with the situations that occurred due to your loved one’s substance use. Forgiveness releases the grudge that hinders your forward movement.
Emotional pain from past events is like a ball and chain. Forgiveness cuts that emotional chain tying you to the past.
Managing Negative Behaviors
Depending on your relationship with the person in substance use rehabilitation, this step can be focused on different things. Whether you are a child, a spouse, a sibling, or a parent of an addict, each relationship has its own set of behaviors that need to be dealt with.
You may be thinking, “They have the problem, why do I need to change anything?”
Simply put, how you act and react can make or break their ability to remain sober after leaving the treatment facility! A qualified therapist or counselor will be able to determine whether as an adult you need help letting go of control issues, whether you need to work on not enabling, or whether you need to just stop making excuses.
In children of addicted parents, the things that are most commonly in need of repair are control issues, resentment, emotional detachment, and lack of trust. There are also things specific to the parent-child relationship that need to be handled so the balance of power can once again be back in the parent’s hands.
Support and Love
Through family therapy and/or counseling, you will learn how to prepare yourself for a future with a different person than the one who went into rehab. They will be tempted to relapse, possibly many times. If you have learned the tools necessary to be a loving support system for them, they have a much better chance at beating their addiction and living the rest of their life sober and in recovery.
It is a huge change to give up substance use when it has become such an integral part of one’s life. It is an even larger change to those living with the newly-sober person, especially if they have been addicted for a long period of time. The most important thing is to remain constant in your support of their sobriety.
It can be beneficial to seek out therapy or counseling even while your loved one is still misusing substances. You will learn ways to deal with their problem, how to stop your enabling, and how to lead them to help. No one has to suffer alone while their loved one slowly sinks into addiction. Help is available!