q How Family and Friends Play a Role in Addiction Recovery - Harcourt Health
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How Family and Friends Play a Role in Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery is a lifelong process that involves more than just the recovering individual. Family and friends play a large role in the recovery journey. Since each individual is different, each person impacted by the consequences of the addiction will need to go through their own process of recovery. According to the National Institute for Health, a family is like an ecosystem. Each person is part of a family, which is part of a larger societal community. How we interact within our family group can affect how we ultimately interact within our community. Having healthy, supportive, and strong relationships with friends and family can vastly improve a person’s addiction recovery success. Here are a few ways in which friends and family play a role in the addiction recovery of their loved one.

1. Accept that Treatment is not a “Cure All”

The recovery process is a continued need and the expectation that completion of a program has “cured” them may result in relapse. When a loved one is recovering from addiction it is imperative that friends and family acknowledge that problems or hardships will not disappear overnight. There will be ongoing concerns and rebuilding of trust and relationships, gaining financial stability, and new employment. Families should have realistic expectations in order to give their loved one the best setup for success.

2. Stay Involved and Supportive

Recovery requires an individual to find a balance between work, school, and relationships. It can be overwhelming to face these things alone but family and friends can offer a strong support system to help their loved one through recovery. Healthy boundaries are a significant base in staying appropriately involved in your loved one’s life to avoid becoming controlling in every minute of the day. Families are a system that must work together in order to achieve a sense of homeostasis. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends that families go to therapy sessions together. This is used to educate friends and family about patterns that lead to substance abuse while also focusing on strengths and resources available for the recovery process.

3. Minimize/Reduce Stress

There is no total avoidance of stress in life but there are ways to reduce stress and minimize its impacts. Alpha 180 says that it is important to acknowledge the stress factors you and your loved ones are facing in order to develop proper coping mechanisms. Transitioning to a new sober environment, new job, budgeting finances, and repairing broken relationships are very common situations a loved one will face during recovery. By learning which of these stressors a recovering loved one is most affected by, family and friends better navigate them towards actions that will help manage the stress in a healthy way. Being there to remind them to speak with their therapist, meditate, or even exercise together can reduce stress. 

4. Find Support for Yourself

While many friends and family members will want to place focus on their recovering loved one, it is just as significant to acknowledge your own need to recover from their addiction.  In the end, a person is only responsible for their own actions. Utilizing support groups can give support outside of your loved one for you to express your own personal concerns and needs. Finding your own therapist to speak with about your own recovery process will benefit you and your loved one in the end. 

Family and friends are often the most important parts of our individual lives and it is important to foster these relationships into healthy and productive ones. Being involved in the addiction recovery of a loved one can help identify unhealthy behaviors, establish healthy boundaries, rebuild lost trust within relationships, and reduce the stressors a loved one is facing. Finding individual support and acknowledging the ongoing journey everyone is about to embark on will set a recovering loved one on the best path for continued success.