“We are family, I have all my sisters with me” was an anthem of the ’70s by Sister Sledge. This anthem also can be a constant reminder that all of us have a family that is there, regardless of the behaviors we have exhibited in our disease. And when an addict/alcoholic is out using the family is also directly affected. The power of the disease of addiction has such a significant impact on all the loved ones around — “We always hurt the ones we love” as another great song states. If the addict/alcoholic goes through recovery, all should be better for everyone, right? It just isn’t the case. The family now must adapt to the changes that recovery brings, from pre-existing patterns to healthy functioning in daily living. This is a commitment every member of the family must be willing to take on no matter how difficult it may be. Here are three ways family members of the recovering addict or alcoholic can help themselves and their loved family member.
Being informed is the first step in understanding the recovery process is not a cure, but a relapsing disease of the mind. There just is no quick fix and no cure. This disease can bring great problems to finances, living situations, health, job problems, and of course interpersonal relationships. It is difficult to pick up the pieces around the family, and there will be difficulties and hardships along the way. If there were legal issues, that can haunt everyone as well. Being informed and knowing there will be a happier and brighter future in store will make these difficulties much more able to bear.
Being supportive is the next step in helping the family achieve help as the recovery process moves forward. If the family member wants to move home and it isn’t a place without chemical substances, it may be necessary to find sober living that makes this better for the loved one. No matter what, the mood of the addict/alcoholic will be up and down as they work on coping with life without mind-altering substances. It is necessary to have great patience and understanding that listening is so important with a nonjudgmental attitude. This is such a help, but it can be hard to support and take care of your own emotional and mental needs. Finding support for yourself through friends, counseling, support groups, or just time away will be an important part of helping the addict/alcoholic. We cannot give away what we don’t have. The family plays a crucial role during this time of change and must offer compassionate support. The roles everyone have played may now change and everyone needs to adapt.
Keep It Simple
Keeping it simple sounds easy. But the life of the addict/alcoholic and the family around them needs to be stress-free. When the addict/alcoholic comes back within the family structure to live this is an absolute necessity. This will also support a longer and more effective sobriety time and in turn, makes issues within the family structure less complicated. When the time comes that therapy is needed to help just make sense and bring insight to whatever may come along, and it will don’t be afraid to seek this out! It can just make sense out of things that just seem so overwhelming and crazy. The household needs healthy and nourishing food, the ability to have quality rest, physical exercise and a stress-free space. Understanding these issues will be such a support to the recovering addict/alcoholic, and to everyone moving forward to their own roles. And the results can be amazing for all of the members of the family.