Addiction is a chronic disease; life-long recovery requires continued care for the loved one with the addiction problems, as well as for the family, also wishing to recover from the effects of alcoholism on the family structure.
Most likely, in the course of your loved one’s treatment, you may have been involved in speaking to your loved one’s therapist or another member on their treatment team in order to share information. Those actions may have been helpful in developing a treatment plan as well as an aftercare plan. The continuing care plan focuses on how the patient can integrate recovery principles into daily life; both in treatment and beyond. Families and loved ones may do well to ask the patient’s therapist how those plans can be sustained through their own support. Research shows that patients who follow an aftercare plan are far more likely to maintain recovery.
Addiction is called a family disease for valid reasoning. It’s common for family members and loved ones of addicts and alcoholics to become familiar with loneliness, remorse, anxiety, resentment and a whole other host of symptoms and emotions. This disease affects all family members differently; yet family members will be affected. Some may lose their sense of joy or spiritual nature, while still others may find themselves isolating and/or angry.
Many times family members and loved ones will find themselves feeling as though they are personally responsible for holding the family structure intact. Healing, however, can come for family members when energies are focused towards more positive actions, such as their own needs and feelings.
Participating in some sort of family group, such as Al-Anon or Families Anonymous, can be one of the most powerful contributions a loved one can make to the process of recovery and the rebuilding of relationships. By becoming conscious of the beliefs and experiences that shape our own behaviors, families can learn to identify and carry out new, healthy ways of coping with issues related to addiction.
Family members and loved ones can locate Twelve Step meetings in nearby areas specifically designed for them. As well, The Watershed’s family interactive Web site, livesinrecovery.com, is an excellent resource for all those seeking answers to questions about addiction.
Al-Anon: visit al-anon.org or call 888-4AL-ANON
Families Anonymous: visit familiesanonymous.org or call 800-736-9805