For family and friends of drug and/or alcohol addicted individuals, confronting addiction is one of the most difficult steps in 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. These are legitimate concerns, but families need to understand that most patients who seek substance abuse treatment were guided by gentle, positive support, family involvement, and intervention.
Prior to Substance Abuse Treatment / Intervention
Each family is different, and the way you should approach family involvement with addiction therapy will differ with every person. Your family may decide to have a private talk with a family member or friend to implore them to seek substance abuse treatment. This often fails, though, so you may wish to hire an interventionist. The Ridge’s recommended intervention professionals get their clients into treatment 95% of the time.
Family Involvement in Outpatient and Residential Programs
Each patient’s needs and means are different, and outpatient and residential programs have varying benefits for patients and family. An outpatient addiction therapy program means that patients are not separated from their families and can receive care in a facility close to their home. In a residential program, patients travel to a facility where they undergo an intensive 28-30 day detoxification and recovery program. They are immersed in the recovery process and are strongly encouraged not to leave the substance abuse treatment campus. However, family involvement is still important, and residential addiction therapy programs like The Ridge encourage frequent interaction with visiting family.
During Residential Addiction Treatment
Residential substance abuse treatment has the obvious benefit of removing the addicted individual from the toxic atmosphere that enabled their addiction, and removing distractions from their addiction therapy. 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 behaviors.
Family involvement, once the patient is in an off-site substance abuse treatment facility, helps families step back and recognize patterns of negative behavior. Even well-meaning family and friends can inadvertently become trapped in a cycle of enabling and codependency. Often, family members pretend nothing is wrong, unintentionally assisting the patient’s addiction by ignoring the problem. Other family members might become accusing, angry, and resentful toward their addicted loved one, which only adds to the patient’s stress and self-hate. When the family members take a break and assess their behaviors while their loved one is undergoing addiction therapy, they often identify behaviors that they can adjust to break the cycle.
Family Education During Drug and Alcohol Treatment
This is not to say that residential substance abuse treatment programs isolate the patient from their friends and family – quite the opposite. In a quality residential substance abuse treatment program, like The Ridge, the focus is equally upon the patient’s physical recovery from drug and alcohol addiction as much as it is on a mental recovery from the addictive disease, and the support that a family provides to a recovering patient is essential to effective mental recovery. Residential centers will not only have regular visitation time, but will also engage family in specially-crafted educational programs which help them learn to provide a safe and supportive recovery environment when their loved one returns from treatment.
Support for Family and Friends of Addicted Individuals
It’s often overlooked, but supporting an addicted loved one can be incredibly stressful and draining. Family and friends of patients are highly encouraged to attend Al Anon or Nar Anon meetings. These free programs 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 helping an addict seek assistance for his or her own problem, addressing a loved one’s drug or alcohol addiction, supporting yourself and your loved one through the recovery process, etc. These programs are essential for family involvement, as they support friends and family during and after the substance abuse treatment program.
After a Substance Abuse Treatment Program
Alcohol and drug addiction are both considered “family diseases,” and family involvement with people combating drug and alcohol addiction requires continual attendance of these meetings during and after the formal inpatient or outpatient addiction therapy session. Additionally, while these meetings help individuals to understand the disease of drug and alcohol addiction to help and support someone they care about, they also assist friends and family with their own emotional support during what is most often an incredibly trying and stressful time. By continuing to attend Al Anon and Nar Anon meetings, friends and family of an addicted individual can continue to stay out of the destructive cycle of enabling and codependency and fully realize the benefits of addiction therapy.