Clinically Reviewed by Sarah Hogan, MA LPC
Sarah is a Licensed Professional Counselor with 13 years of experience in the behavioral health field as well as a certified provider of Cognitive Processing Therapy for Trauma. She has extensive experience in counseling and case management with local mental health authorities, emergency homeless shelters, leading high acuity response teams, and serving first responders/veterans.
Substance abuse is a serious problem that affects millions of people around the world every year, and while individuals struggling with addiction may feel alone and helpless, it’s important to understand that families can help.
Family members can play an important role in supporting a loved one through substance abuse treatment. Below you’ll find tips on how family members can provide support during this difficult time.
From helping someone find the right treatment option to providing emotional support, there are several ways families can be involved in the recovery process. Remember, addiction is a disease. And while it is a disease that can be painful and hurtful to those around the addict, it can be effectively managed and the hurt can stop.
Understanding Substance Abuse
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, know that you are not alone.On the surface, substance abuse is the excessive use of drugs or alcohol— but it is a disease. Like many diseases, it can be difficult to impossible to overcome on one’s own and often requires professional treatment and support.
If you’re concerned about someone close to you who may be abusing drugs or alcohol, there are some signs to look for:
- Changes in appearance, mood, or behavior
- Secretive behavior
- Withdrawing from friends and activities
- Financial problems
- And legal troubles
If you see any of these signs, it’s important to reach out for help, because substance abuse can have a profound effect on families. It can lead to strained relationships, financial difficulties, and even physical violence.
Treatment for substance abuse can vary depending on the individual and the severity of their addiction, and can and often includes families as well. Treatment can involve different types of therapy, support groups, and medication. Often, a combination of therapies is most successful in helping someone overcome an addiction. Family members can play an important role in supporting their loved one through treatment and recovery.
Support Groups For Families
There are also many support groups available for families struggling with addiction. That is to say, there are support groups for family members of a person who is addicted, not just for the addict.
You’ve likely heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, and you may have heard of Narcotics Anonymous, or NA.
But did you know about Al-Anon and Nar-Anon family support groups? These are groups that support families who have an addicted family member. They are always free, adjacent to AA and NA, and can likely be found in your area.
These are great resources for someone struggling with a family member who has addiction. They can even help you find professional support like doctors or intervention specialists, and they offer an understanding that only those in the same circumstances can truly understand.
What To Do If You Want To Get A Loved One Into Treatment?
It’s rarely easy to get someone you love to admit a problem and go to treatment. But there are some things you can do to help them get there.
Offer emotional support: Let your loved one know that you’re here for them and that you believe they can recover. Provide a listening ear and a strong shoulder. Listen more than you talk.
Be supportive: Offer your support and encouragement. Remind them why they’re doing this and how much you believe in them.
Make healthy lifestyle changes: Addiction is often accompanied by unhealthy behaviors, such as poor diet and lack of exercise. Lead by example and create a healthy environment for recovery.
Set boundaries: It’s important to set boundaries with someone who is recovering from addiction. Let them know what behaviors are acceptable and what isn’t.
Finally, you can stage an intervention. Usually, the first step is to consult with a professional interventionist who will help plan and execute the intervention. You will need to gather a group of people who care about the person struggling with addiction, who will participate in the intervention. During the intervention, each participant in the group will take turns expressing concern for the addict and sharing how his or her addiction has affected them personally.
The goal of an intervention is to persuade the addict to go to treatment by presenting an ultimatum, such as being cut off financially or being kicked out of the house if he or she doesn’t go to rehab.
Again, it’s best to contact a professional intervention specialist that can help you plan everything out, but with the right planning they can be effective.
The Importance Of Family Once In Treatment
When it comes to addiction and substance abuse treatment, family can play an important role in the recovery process. Here are four ways that family can help with substance abuse treatment:
- Support — Addiction is an isolating disease, but family can provide much-needed support during treatment. This support can come in the form of emotional support, financial assistance, or simply being there for someone during difficult times.
- Encourage treatment — Addiction is best faced with the help of professionals. The outcomes will likely be better, and in some cases withdrawal can be dangerous. It’s always better to have a professional on your side.
- Structure — One of the main goals of treatment is to help individuals develop a healthy routine and establish structure in their lives. Family can play a key role in this by providing support and stability during treatment and beyond.
- Accountability — Family members can help hold individuals accountable during treatment and after they complete their program. This accountability can help prevent relapse and ensure long-term success in recovery.
Get Help Today For A Loved One Experiencing Addiction
Families can be an essential part of the support system for someone who is struggling with addiction. By understanding how to help, providing emotional support and resources to those in treatment, and encouraging healthy habits during recovery, family members can help make the process easier for their loved one.
With love, patience and understanding from family members, it may be possible to find lasting freedom from substance abuse and establish a better life in recovery— but only with professional help as well. Call us at (512) 764-0379 and we can help get your loved one into treatment and get them healthy once again.