Rebuilding Family Relationships After Addiction Treatment
Addiction doesn’t just have the potential to negatively affect one person’s life and health, but it can also cause a multitude of damaged relationships. Addiction can leave a trail of damage in its wake, and when one person in the family develops an addiction to a substance, it causes stress to the others in the family home and to those people who are closest to the individual experiencing the addiction. But once individuals are in recovery, the reparations are not fixed instantly.
Part of the recovery process involves helping people come to terms that they have caused harm to the people they love, and this is where a number of approaches and strategies can help an individual, including the following:
Setting Realistic Expectations
When someone has made significant progress in recovering, they will be looking for a fresh start in their relationships. This is why each step somebody makes towards repairing a relationship should be celebrated.
Rebuilding the Trust Will Take Time
Depending on the length of the addiction, there may have been a pattern of negative behavior that went on for several years. Lying, cheating, and deception are just some of the behaviors someone suffering from addiction may display, and when someone has been betrayed so many times, rebuilding the trust will not happen in the space of a few weeks or months.
Someone who is living with an addiction will always prioritize themselves over others. This is why when we’ve caused hurt to the people that we love, it’s understandable that they may be cautious about having any form of relationship with us in case we fall back into those patterns, but it’s also important to remember they are protecting themselves from being hurt.
For example, a mother whose son has been displaying deception to feed their addiction can find themselves experiencing conflicting emotions, not just because their child has been hurting themselves but has also been causing damage to the relationship with sheer disregard.
When you are looking to rebuild trust, the important thing to remember is that you give people time and space so they can heal their wounds but also see just how far you’ve come in the recovery process.
Follow Your Aftercare Plans
Recovery is an ongoing journey. A well-developed aftercare plan provides you with a set of guidelines as you transition from recovery from the treatment center to normal life. Helping family members understand that you have transitioned to recovery is about showing dedication to following the aftercare plan set for you.
A strong aftercare plan will comprise a number of solutions, including talk therapy, the triggers and challenges, outpatient care, as well as health and well-being. For anybody looking to send the clearest message of all to those they care about, but also have hurt, following your aftercare plan is pivotal because they possess the most powerful recovery tools. If your aftercare plan involves you working with a therapist or counselor you will have the opportunity to work on a number of skills that can help you in recovery, which would include:
- Preventing relapse.
- Managing your stress.
- Learning coping skills.
- Understanding relationship dynamics.
The last point is crucial because we must remember that the people that we have caused hurt are going on their own emotional journey, and your relationships with each family member are going to be unique.
For example, you must remember that a parent that has been advocating tough love may be more reticent to open themselves back up to you, and for anybody who is undergoing the recovery process, this may prove upsetting or hurtful that they are not responding to you in the way that you would like. However, offering the olive branch is the best you can do in this situation, and remember that everybody needs their own time to come around. The reality is that you need to be the best person you can be in the recovery process, and this involves following your aftercare plan to the letter.
Attend Your Support Meetings
As part of your aftercare plan, you may need to attend support groups or self-help groups like AA and NA. The benefits of support meetings like this are not just so you can verbalize your feelings and thoughts throughout your recovery, but you can also develop a strong support network with others who are facing similar struggles.
Sometimes, it can feel hurtful when we’re trying to show the people we love that we have come so far, and others who are undergoing similar situations can provide insight into your journey (and you in theirs), but you can also benefit from a sponsor in this environment. The aftercare plan will suggest how many meetings you need to attend every week, however, you may wish to attend more. We have to remember that if we are looking to repair relationships with our family after an addiction, it’s not enough to show them that we are attending these meetings, but we are actually learning from them. The aftercare plan is designed to set us up for success so we have a detailed plan that can help us get through the first few weeks or months after treatment, but also it helps with our lifestyle. Support groups can be one component of this, but to repair and rebuild family relationships after addiction treatment, it’s understandable that they may think we are pulling the wool over their eyes by just conforming to the things that are asked of us. The reality is that we need to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to the recovery process.
Using Family Therapy
One other component that may prove very beneficial to families who are struggling to rebuild relationships after addiction is family therapy. Addiction is, in many ways, a family disease. An addiction can damage all of an individual’s closest personal relationships, from spouses and partners to parents, children, and friends. Family therapy can be beneficial to resolve pent-up misunderstandings or resentments to restore the balance of the family.
It’s not just the individual’s experience in the addiction, but the family can unwittingly hurt someone with substance abuse, either by enabling or being unwilling to accept that the individual suffering from the addiction has made significant changes in their life. Family therapy can be incredibly beneficial as it focuses on varying presenting problems and themes in a safe and supportive environment. Different types of family therapy include:
Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT)
This is a course of therapy focused on adolescents suffering from an addiction and subsequent behaviors, for example, delinquency. The principles of the therapy relate to the relationships of the adolescent, inside and outside of the family system, and the treatment focuses on helping them have healthier and developmentally-appropriate relationships with every family member.
Family-Based Therapy (FBT)
FBT is an approach that takes an agnostic view of the disorder. The therapists do not analyze why something developed and does not blame the family, but actually focus on and presume there is a powerful bond between the parents and the children, which aims to empower the parents to use love as a way to help the child.
Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Trading (CRAFT)
Descending from the philosophy of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), CRAFT’s main principle is based on the idea that an individual’s occupational and social environment is vital to their recovery. The family comes on board at a specific stage of the treatment to ensure that everyone is consistent in their approach to help the individual experiencing the addiction.
The Benefits of Family Therapy After Addiction Treatment
The family unit can provide a positive impact on a loved one’s recovery from addiction. There are many benefits of having family therapy after addiction treatment:
- Understanding the effect of addiction on a family helps the family understand how the treatment works and what to expect upon its completion.
- Easing stress or other negative feelings relating to the addiction.
- Increasing and improving family communication.
- Keeping the individual going through recovery and the opportunity to stay motivated.
- Offering a loved one the appropriate support after addiction treatment.
- Addressing any mental health issues or concerns within the family unit, for example, depression, anxiety, or if the addiction was inherited.
When the family gets involved in the recovery process, this can provide significant insight into the family unit, as well as ensure pivotal support for the individual undergoing the recovery. For anybody recovering from an addiction, it is so important to understand that the family can be gravely impacted.
Family therapy can increase an individual’s mental fortitude and develop positive behavioral and attitudinal changes, but it can also improve the emotional health of the family as a unit and establish trust, as well as encourage forgiveness for past behaviors. It can resolve conflict in a supportive forum and can also remove the sense of crisis.
Peaks Recovery and Our Family Program
Many times families are not sure how to support addiction recovery while also caring for themselves. At Peaks Recovery and within our inpatient treatment program, our Family Program helps the entire family understand their position in terms of the bigger picture of addiction so everybody can recover together and find stability and happiness in their lives. Reach out to us today for more information.