Chemical dependency doesn’t just affect the person with the substance problem – it affects the entire family (a loose term, which usually includes close friends). Quite often, family members do not realize how much their loved one’s addiction has affected their relationships, finances, domestic life, and external appearances. Once the extent of the damage is revealed, relationships between family members weaken and often break. Some individuals struggling with substance abuse find this to be their reason to seek treatment, but for others this loss pushes them further into their addiction. No matter what your circumstance, participating in chemical dependency treatment can help you repair relationships and come to terms with addiction.
Addiction rehab programs vary in the degree and quality of family involvement opportunities, and some types of activities might serve patients and their families better than others. Families involved in drug rehab treatment programs learn about the disease of chemical dependency so that they can recognize the problem and the effects it has on the patient and the entire family. It is an opportunity for loved ones who deny the problem exists, or do not understand the nature of addiction to come to terms with the truth. Family members may want to participate in support groups, organize an intervention, or join family counseling. Chemical dependency treatment programs provide such opportunities to loved ones so that a family can rid themselves of the disease and begin a brighter future together.
Support groups such as, Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, are anonymous, free gatherings for friends and family to discuss their experiences with a loved one’s substance abuse in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Joining a family support group not only shows that you are not alone, but gives you the opportunity to learn more about addiction, treatment, and recovery from people who have already gone through it. General family support groups can help you cope with your loved one’s substance abuse and find the strength to overcome this dark period in your life.
Interventions are when a family confronts their loved one about his or her substance abuse. It is a very difficult situation for anyone involved. Often times, the family members voice their concern in a way that the chemically dependent sees as hurtful or wrong, and sometimes even blame their behavior on their loved ones. Likewise, the seemingly irrational actions of the person struggling with their addiction can bring up feelings of frustration and anger in a family that just wants to return to normal. This is why an intervention specialist is sometimes asked to join in to help the family navigate through. However tough the intervention can feel, the urging and backing a family provides is often the main motivation for someone to seek treatment for their chemical dependency. Continued support through treatment can make all the difference for someone traversing the difficult road to recovery.
Family Counseling or therapy sessions address the family members’ feelings of frustration, confusion, anger, guilt and stress while capitalizing on the healing effects of forgiveness and love. Family members share and listen to each others’ experiences with the addiction in their life under the guidance of a counselor. This is a way to work through the past’s wounds and let go of resentment and isolation. Each member can identify ways to aid in the chemically dependent person’s recovery, whether that be stopping a triggering behavior or helping them find healthy coping habits. Loved ones bond through this sharing experience, and come out of counseling a more resilient family.
Chronic chemical dependency often becomes the central theme of a family living with substance abuse. Nobody can live in such a dark environment without it changing them. Addiction affects more than the person abusing drugs or alcohol- it impairs the family’s functioning on multiple levels. Family involvement not only helps the chemically dependent recover, but improves the family health.
Family members involved in chemical dependency treatment programs examine their own behaviors and reactions to addiction. Some of these can be unhealthy and unhelpful for both themselves and the person struggling with substance abuse. Through family programs, they can learn to recognize their negative behaviors and find better ways of dealing with their problems. These skills heal family members and aid in the chemically dependent’s treatment. The end result is a balanced family with new understanding of themselves.
Bradford Health Services offers the following options to those struggling with a loved one’s addiction. All of our family offerings help us educate the family on the disease of addiction, and teach them healthy ways to support their loved ones and practice self-care.
- Support Meetings for Families, Concerned Persons, and Parents – These meetings are free and open to the community- your loved one does not have to be a patient at Bradford. All regional offices have these support meetings.
- Adult and Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Treatments have family group meetings once a week as part of the patient’s treatment. This program can also incorporate family conjoin sessions into treatment
- Inpatient Treatment can include a 3-Day Family Retreat Program.