Talking to Your Family About Sobriety

Attending a rehabilitation program for substance use disorder includes making core changes to your thought patterns and behaviors. Your parents, siblings, and children watched you struggle with the side effects of your condition, and now that you are making progress in healing, they may need to learn about different aspects of recovery. Conversations regarding your mental health and sobriety can bring your loved ones peace of mind and allow them to support you.

Research suggests that long-term sobriety is more likely to succeed if you have a strong support system at home that includes family and close friends. A 2018 article published in BMJ Open reported that "families are significantly impacted by addictions and family involvement in treatment can reduce the harms and can also improve treatment entry, treatment completion and treatment outcomes for the individual coping with an addiction." Talking with loved ones about complex topics is never easy, and it can help to know how to discuss addiction recovery. 

How to Talk to Your Children About Sobriety

Parents may feel intimidated about addressing substance abuse and recovery with adolescent or adult children. Every stage of treatment comes with challenges, and facing them with the encouragement of your children can make a significant difference in your mental state. Younger children may have difficulty grasping the concepts associated with substance use disorder and rehabilitation, but you should include them in the conversation to a degree. Whenever you discuss your sobriety with family, it is best to be transparent, open, and honest instead of using vague terms that might decrease stress in the short term, but cause miscommunication later on. 

You may want to protect your child's innocence and shield them from the ugly consequences of substance abuse. However, if you avoid speaking about it, they will be forced to draw their own conclusions about what is happening to you. Your family members will know that something is going on even if you try to keep your addiction a secret. Not understanding your motivations can lead to misunderstandings which can be devastating for young children. 

The following conversations can help your children better understand your situation and how they fit into your recovery:

  • Explain behavioral changes, especially ones that have directly impacted your children, such as abrupt mood changes, risk-taking behaviors, or anger.
  • Go over what steps you have taken to regain and retain your sobriety and how they can support you.
  • Let them know that they are not at fault for your actions and reassure them that you are getting the help you need.

Family Therapy Improves Communication

Family therapy is a valuable tool for bridging the gap between different generations that have difficulty speaking about addiction and recovery. Terms used, stigmas, and social acceptance change over time, so parents and children may have opposing views on the subject, making it hard to have meaningful conversations. In addition, there is a genetic factor to some substance use disorders, and a percentage of individuals who experience addiction have one or more close family members who also struggle with substance abuse. Family therapy can help you talk about your recovery with family members who have not tried to get help for their own disorder. 

An outside perspective can guide family members toward common goals and increase understanding and self-awareness. A therapist can guide you and your parents or children through the complicated conversations surrounding treatment and long-term recovery. You can start family therapy while attending a residential or outpatient program facility. For example, White House Recovery and Detox encourages families to play an active role in treatment. Sometimes it helps to stabilize symptoms first. If you choose to wait until after completing your treatment, a case manager can connect you with community or private support resources that include family and individual therapy. Learn more by visiting our page on How We Treat substance use disorder.

5 Tips for Discussing Difficult Topics

#1. Before having a conversation about your recovery with family members, create a script that goes over what you want to share. Writing down the information ahead of time gives you the chance to choose your words carefully to minimize confusion and miscommunication. 

#2. Talk in a neutral space where you are all on equal footing. A power imbalance may cause stress or pressure to react in a certain way. It is important that everyone feel safe and comfortable.  

#3. Research beforehand so you have facts and resources prepared to answer any questions your family might have about your diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. 

#4. Respect personal boundaries. Some family members may not want to be involved with your recovery, and it is essential to respect their decision. In addition, they should also respect your boundaries. 

#5. Be patient with yourself and your loved ones. Members of your family may need some time to adjust to the reality of what you are going through. You cannot force your family to support you or understand the recovery process. Practice grace by being kind to yourself and your family.

Your family can lend you strength and unconditional support during treatment and recovery. There are several ways you can approach conversations about rehabilitation with your loved ones. At White House Recovery and Detox, we offer family therapy where our therapists can provide an outside perspective and guidance for families who struggle to connect. The risk of relapse or overdose decreases significantly when you create a close support system that includes encouraging and loving family members. Recovery is an ongoing process, and you are more than your diagnosis. The more people you have in your corner, the less stress you will experience over time. We believe that families are stronger together, and White House Recovery and Detox is here to help you reconnect with loved ones. Your family can play a significant part in your recovery. Learn more about our services and facility by calling our office today at (800) 510-5393.