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Family role in addict’s recovery

For family and friends of drug and/or alcohol addicted individuals, addressing addiction is one of the most difficult aspects of seeking substance abuse treatment.

Often, drug and alcohol addiction has built a destructive cycle over a time to the point where daily family involvement actually enables the addicted individual.

Family members frequently do not know how to bring up the issue of addiction therapy, and opt to ignore the problem for fear of pushing their loved one away during a confrontation or intervention.

These are legitimate concerns, and while families should understand that approaching their loved one should be a gentle and supportive process, they also need to understand that most patients seek substance abuse treatment because of positive family involvement and intervention.

Each family is different, and the way you should approach family involvement with addiction therapy will differ with every person. There are counsellors who are trained to work with drug and alcohol addicted patients and their families, and while they can be useful to mediate the intervention process, your family may decide to have a private, non-confrontational and honest talk with a family member or friend to implore them to seek substance abuse treatment.

Whichever approach you take, it is important to understand that the family dynamic in drug and alcohol addiction is incredibly powerful, and that addressing an unhealthy imbalance in communication is your first step in moving your loved one toward addiction therapy.

This type of positive family involvement can also help lead the rest of your family toward a journey of recovery and self-discovery.

After an intervention, the best case scenario is that the individual suffering from drug or alcohol addiction will be compelled to enter either an inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment program.

Patients’ needs vary, but inpatient substance abuse treatment has an obvious benefit of removing the drug and/or alcohol addicted individual from the toxic atmosphere that was enabling their addiction, and helping them through addiction therapy without distraction.

This same benefit is transferred to the patient’s friends and family, who are often able to gain a new perspective about their loved one’s addiction and their own behaviours. Family involvement, once the patient is in an off-site substance abuse treatment facility, is periodic and helps families step back and recognise patterns of negative behaviour.

The support that a family provides to a patient recovering from addiction is essential to that patient’s success, and residential centres will often have not only visitation throughout the week or on weekends, but will also engage family into an educational substance abuse treatment program of their own, such as supportive and dynamic recovery workshops and sessions for family involvement.

Outside of the residential substance abuse treatment facility, family and friends of patients are highly encouraged to attend Al Anon or Nar Anon meetings. These free programmes are held around the nation and are dedicated to providing group support to family and friends of drug and alcohol addicted individuals.

The meetings address things such as: helping an addict seek assistance for his or her own problem, addressing a loved one’s drug or alcohol addiction, building family through the addiction therapy process, supporting yourself and your loved one through the recovery process, etc.

These programmes are essential for family involvement, as they support friends and family during and after the substance abuse treatment programme .

* Adrian Daisley Ph.D is a Certified Life Coach

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