January 1st is a day some people choose to begin their journey to recovery from addition. Recovery from alcohol and drug disorders is an ongoing process to find a path to a healthy lifestyle. Although it’s different for every individual, the end goal is the same: adopting positive changes and recovery values that people choose to use to stay healthy. There are about 25 million Americans currently in recovery, so we’re not alone in working toward that goal.
In the past few decades, science has brought us new and effective behavioral therapies and addiction medications, as well as lifesaving treatments to revive people from overdose and give them a chance to seek lasting recovery. People with lived experience in recovery know that we need tools to manage our long-term sobriety and stability. One of these important tools is family support. Family awareness of their loved one’s recovery needs is an evidence-based practice, but not enough families become engaged in that process.
Various barriers make family involvement in services for substance use disorders (SUD) and co-occurring mental health disorders (COD) the exception rather than the rule. Broken families, lack of effective communication, frustration, and erosion of trust are some of those barriers. Family members are not born knowing how to support a loved one in recovery. But they can learn. Family can, and ideally do, play a major role in the treatment process. And it’s a large and important role. Here are some tips for family members of youth and adults with SUD:
- Learn as much as you can about the chronic disease of addiction
- Find a peer support group for family members like Al-Anon
- Go to family therapy sessions
- Eat meals as a family as often as possible
- Manage expectations: relapse is an expected part of the recovery process
- Make time in each day for joy: taking a walk in the park, petting an animal, or cooking favorite foods helps to relieve the stress of providing recovery support
And if your family needs help with substance use or mental health disorders, call L.A. CADA at (562) 906-2676.