The success of treatment lies in relapse prevention and this is where family can play an important role. Most patients are able to remain sober whilst undergoing treatment, because of the close supervision and structured environment they are in, especially when in rehab. The real challenge arises in ensuring recovering patients maintain sobriety once they get back to their normal lives with their families.
Whilst family members might be doing their best in dealing with and helping the addicted individual, they actually might be doing more damage than good. Families might end up obsessing about them – where they are, what they are doing and trying to control them in an effort to help them and/or protect their own dignity. This usually does not help. It’s important for a family to understand what they should and should not do in dealing with the addicted individual.
Living with an addicted individual can be frustrating and testing and you might be blaming and criticizing them. Blaming and criticizing would only worsen the problem. A recent study, conducted by William Fals-Stewart of the State University of New York at Buffalo, found that men recovering from substance abuse are less successful if they believe their spouse or partner is critical of them, rather than supportive.
No one is born with the knowledge of effectively dealing with addiction; it’s a skill that needs to be learned. Professional help can be sought in learning how you could help your loved one; you could go to a psychologist, family therapist or join a family support group.
Drug and alcohol addiction often affects the entire family along with the individual. It’s important to understand that not only the addict but the whole family might have become dysfunctional as a result of constantly dealing with an individual suffering from addiction. It’s important that the family seeks treatment before they start trying to help the recovering addict. One of the most common problems in families who are dealing with an individual suffering from addiction is Co-dependency, where the lives of the entire family are centered around the individual suffering from addiction – forgetting about themselves in the process.
By assessing and modifying the attitudes and behaviors, within the family, which might be harming rather than helping the addicted member, together with learning new and healthier ways of communicating and dealing with them, a family can play a crucial role in the recovery of an addicted individual and in preventing relapse.