Recovering from addiction is a lifelong healing journey that requires help and support not only for us as individuals but also for our families. Educating families is one of the most important pieces of ongoing support in recovery. The more our families learn about us and our addictions, the more understanding and supportive they can be to us as we recover. Because addiction is a family disease, our families are healing right alongside us. Very often, the success of our recovery is deeply connected to the healing and education of our families.
Fostering Connection Within Families
Living with addiction can be an incredibly isolating experience, one that can create huge divides between us and our loved ones. Educating families about addiction and fostering connections between family members is vital to our recovery. Addiction is often misunderstood, especially by those closest to us. When we don’t feel understood by the people we love, we can experience increased feelings of isolation, sadness, and shame. These difficult feelings can further contribute to our addictive patterns and make it even harder for us to recover. At Athens Area Commencement Center, we prioritize family sessions and family groups, to help family members start to reconnect and better support one another.
Family members can provide invaluable emotional support as we work towards recovery. Building an understanding between us and our families can help bolster our chances for a successful recovery. Learning about addiction can help our families to better understand us and our addiction journeys, giving them the understanding they need to support us as we recover. The more our families learn about us and our addictions, the stronger and deeper our connections can become. These deep and meaningful connections can be precious lifelines to us in our healing journeys.
Educating Families That Are Struggling
When we’re struggling with addiction, our families are often struggling as well. Without education and support, we’re separated, isolated, and disconnected from our loved ones, struggling alone rather than healing together. Our families cope with the frightening highs and lows of our addictive patterns. Our loved ones have to contend with the mental and emotional fallout, as well as the physical and often financial ramifications. Witnessing our struggles can become a heavy load for our families to carry.
With education and support, however, our family members can receive the help they need to work on their own healing as they continue to support us in ours. Addiction recovery is too big a challenge to undertake alone. Education on addiction shows our families that they don’t have to be alone in this huge undertaking. From support groups and networks like Al-Anon to ongoing learning opportunities and resources, our families can benefit from and be surrounded by a loving community there to offer them help and guidance. Athens Area Commencement Center provides that much-needed, supportive community to those working toward recovery and their families.
Educating Families on Triggers
Perhaps one of the most important pieces of recovery is the management of triggers, the different things that create within us strong emotional reactions that can lead to substance use or the urge to use. This concept of triggers might be new to many families. Until we learn about triggers and how to manage them, they can be yet another source of confusion and misunderstanding within our close relationships. For example, many of us find ourselves especially triggered by the things our family members say and do. Perhaps someone in our family says something insensitive about our past struggles with addiction. Maybe a relative uses it right in front of us without thinking about how triggering that might be for us.
In recovery, we learn how to manage our triggers in ways that are healthy and productive. We learn to withstand the urge to use no matter how emotional or reactive we might feel in the moment. Over time, we develop a sense of determination and resilience that keep us strong in our recovery. Our families can help us to process our triggers in real time and work through them effectively. Education can help our family members to better understand us and our triggers. Our families learn, right alongside us, how important it is for us to manage our triggers. They learn ways in which they can support us, for example, by being more mindful of how they interact with us.
Educating Families on Enabling Behaviors
One thing families learn about in addiction education is the concept of enabling behaviors. Our family members are often unaware of the role they can play in enabling and sometimes compounding our addictive patterns. For example, we might be taking our treatment seriously when a family member suggests we go on a weekend getaway to celebrate our progress. What might be perceived as a kind gesture might actually derail our progress. Our family members might cause us to falter in our hard work too early in the recovery process.
Even with the best of intentions, our families can make decisions that are disruptive to our recovery. Some of their behaviors might distract us from the important work we’re doing to heal. Our families can inadvertently engage in unhelpful behaviors that enable the patterns we’re working so hard to leave behind. Educating families on the choices they make, including any form of enabling behaviors, can help them to be more conscientious when supporting us in our recovery.
At Athens Area Commencement Center, we believe that addiction is not just an individual’s experience but also a family disease. When one family member is struggling with addiction, very often the whole family is impacted. The more we learn, the better equipped we are to support one another as we recover. AACC offers regular family group sessions, ongoing education, and individual counseling sessions to all our clients’ families. We’ll be here with you step by step as you and your loved ones work together towards recovery. If you or a family member needs help, reach out to us at (706) 546-7355 for more information. Both you and your family deserve love and support!