How Families Can Overcome Addiction
Recovery is most likely when supported through relationships and social networks. Family members are often the main champions of their loved one’s recovery.
Family provides essential support for those fighting addiction. Family and friends can also find positive healing and hope, even during this difficult process.
During recovery, family members may experience changes or shifts to their social, occupational, and financial lives. They may begin to see challenges as well to the overall quality of family life they’ve known. Experiences like this often create family stress, guilt, shame, anger, fear, anxiety, loss, grief, and isolation.
Hope and resilience in recovery is as vital for family members, who need support to promote their own health and well-being.
Everyone Needs To Support The Intervention Process
Family members will be prepared, will know what to expect, and must be open to the intervention process. They also need to feel heard and listened to by the interventionist.
During the process, all who participate will learn more about substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders and how these affect both individuals and families.
Families and loved ones will undoubtedly uncover more information and hidden stories around the addiction. This will help create a more accurate picture of reality. It also provides an overwhelming sense of relief for families as they understand how to work toward a common goal together.
Families Need Help Too
Substance abuse and/or mental health disorders create problems that have permanent impacts on families.
Financial troubles, divorce, even domestic abuse can all occur without proper treatment. Well-meaning family members often shield themselves from truth and react from guilt and shame.
Part of the intervention process includes teaching families about the part they play in moving someone else to change. Once a loved one seeks help, family members should engage in their own recovery too.
Families often contact an interventionist once they have grown tired of tactics they have tried and failed: nagging, pleading, bargaining, lecturing, etc. Continuing with these attempts leaves families exhausted and discouraged.
It’s also common for family members to have their own codependency and boundary issues that need to be addressed. Frequently families look away or minimize damaging behavior.
Through the intervention process family members discover how to improve the quality of their own lives. They can learn to set and keep boundaries, and begin to take care of themselves.
Healthy boundaries are paramount for personal health and happiness. As family members begin to examine their own behaviors and seek change, they can begin to understand how to be part of the solution and not the problem.
Who should be involved?
Family members, friends, business acquaintances and anyone genuinely interested in the care of the identified loved one can be part of an intervention team. This doesn’t mean everyone has to speak or share during the actual intervention, and personal accounts are gathered through individual phone interviews. Essentially, anyone on the intervention team needs to be trustworthy and someone that the identified loved one would be willing to hear speak.
Children are affected by substance abuse/mental health disorders. However, they need not always be part of the interventions. Every situation is handled differently and a child’s age and maturity level would need to be considered.
Do not include anyone who promotes, enables or engages in negative behavior.
What does a family intervention look like?
Thanks to television shows, families have become more familiar with the idea of an intervention. However, interventions are not like what people see on the screen.
Interventions are respectful, confidential, and invitational. These are not shaming sessions or meant to be confrontational attacks that feel threatening.
Interventions are highly stylized conversations where families come together for the good of a loved one, whose behavior has become disruptive due to addiction/mental health disorders. The focus remains on the identified loved one and the goal is to move them toward treatment. An interventionist does everything possible to work with the family to facilitate this process toward recovery.
Additionally, extra precautions are needed for interventions with clients who have a history of violence. Other scenarios include when a patient is addicted to cocaine, methamphetamines, or other similar stimulants and is also in mania. Also, a different approach is needed for a youth suffering from both anorexia and depression. It’s critical that the entire process stays safe, caring, and beneficial for everyone involved. That’s also why a selected interventionist should fully understand family dynamics, mental health disorders and processes.
Evidence For Family Interventions
90% of interventions led by a professional are successful. This is a powerful statistic to keep in mind when considering whether an intervention is right for a family. Unfortunately, families either live in denial or believe they alone can fix the problems. In reality, professional help is necessary to mitigate potential problems and keep a positive focus on the identified loved one. With a trained interventionist, families can begin to finally see hope where there was none and take steps toward happier, healthier lives.
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Additional Family Resources
Falling Up: A Memoir of Renewal
Learn To Thrive
Christine Carter PhD
Bradshaw On the Family
Co-Dependent No More
Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook
Randi Kruger & Paul Mason
How to Break Your Addiction to a Person
Howard M. Halpern
One Day at a Time in Al-Anon
Living With an Alcoholic