Just as addiction affects the whole family, recovery is also a family matter. At the Road to Freedom, we offer help and hope not only to the addict, but to their loved ones as well.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
When an addicted family member enters recovery, the rest of the family often breathes a collective sigh of relief. For years, they have likely experienced many emotions in the chaos of substance abuse: anger, fear, embarrassment, frustration, disappointment, and helplessness. They have prayed countless prayers that this day would come. With the addict’s pursuit of sobriety, the family members sense that the nightmare is over; the painful feelings are in the past and their loved one will rejoin them as a fully participating member. It is not uncommon for family members to think, “At long last, we can finally return to normal!”
Such hopeful anticipation is understandable, but it fails to consider that family dysfunction has become the norm and other members have contributed to the chaos. The void created by removing the substance abuse is not automatically filled with healthy experiences and feelings. Dysfunctional relationships and behaviors do not immediately change. Non-addicted spouses and loved ones may continue to experience lingering resentments, find it difficult to engage in conversation, and feel uneasy about reestablishing a close relationship with their newly recovered family member. Children may remain distant, having found alternatives to home and family as a place of safety. Many will struggle with continued feelings of resentment toward a parent who has been absent or abusive due to substance abuse.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
In order to best support the addict’s recovery, families need to recognize that overcoming addiction is a process, not an event. The family’s working dynamics, previously skewed by substance abuse, will essentially need to be dismantled and reconstructed. Achieving sobriety is the first step – a courageous act to be regarded with gratitude, respect, and acceptance. However, family members who are willing to become involved must then commit to maintaining an ongoing recovery lifestyle. The change requires leaving behind old, unhealthy patterns of relating to each other and seeking help toward change. Recovery requires respect for the interests and rights of other family members, willingness to explore new ways of interacting as a family unit, and communicating legitimate needs without fear of rejection or ridicule. Each family will face unique challenges experience their own pace of recovery.
To help support families in this process, Road to Freedom offers a family weekend workshop in conjunction with The Treatment Center. Here, loved ones of patients can learn more about the stages of family recovery, the importance of setting clear boundaries, family support groups and more. By recognizing that recovery is a family matter, your loved one will have a better chance at a successful recovery.
If you would like to learn more about the programs we offer, please contact our family program coordinator, Judi Jenett. She may be reached via email or phone:
[email protected]:: (561) 214-9376