Tips for Navigating Family Issues During Recovery

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According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Involving family members in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment can positively affect client engagement, retention, and outcomes.” Even if your family is not traditionally close, you can find ways to overcome differences and build up an equally beneficial relationship. During recovery, supportive loved ones can do the following: 

  • Provide encouragement and positive reinforcement 
  • Make changes to accommodate your recovery
  • Actively take part in your recovery by attending family therapy

Sometimes achieving a positive relationship with loved ones is not always easy due to past experiences. Common causes of family dysfunction include limited emotional intelligence, abuse, and mental health disorders. You can work through these with family therapy and other alternatives if family members are willing to put aside differences and work together to create healthier relationships. 

Substance Abuse and Family Dysfunction

Substance use disorder connects to multiple dysfunctional family dynamics. Unfortunately, the nature of addiction means that it tends to be intergenerational and cyclic. When you choose to get help for your disorder, you put the brakes on the cycle of damage caused by SUD, leaving you to figure out how to navigate changes that may have taken place in your relationships. Every family has issues, and that is entirely normal. A few common risk factors for developing SUD and related disorders include:

  • Close family members with a history of substance use or mental health disorders
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Growing up in a toxic environment
  • Witnessing domestic abuse

A diagnosis of substance use disorder significantly increases the odds of family dysfunction being present. Therapy will often help individuals navigate relationship problems during treatment and continuing care. One-on-one and family therapy are helpful methods for analyzing the root cause of issues between family members and determining a healthy path forward for everyone. 

Common Causes of Family Tension

SUD is a notable risk factor in the possible development of mental health disorders and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Family tension can stem from the side effects of choices made and symptoms related to any medical condition. A few common causes of problems between family members include: 

  • Feelings of abandonment or neglect
  • Anger, frustration, guilt, or other unaddressed negative emotions
  • Financial strain
  • Lack of clear communication 
  • Unresolved arguments
  • Unrealistic expectations

The Cycle of Addiction

Family dynamics get established very early, and those behavioral patterns can interfere with your recovery even decades later. The cycle of addiction can pass on from one generation to the next. Completing treatment and attending family therapy is one way to break the damaging cycle and allow healing for everyone involved. 

Many families refuse to admit unhealthy dynamics because it feels easier to ignore the problem and make excuses than to hold individuals accountable and make significant life changes. Accountability is essential when you work to bridge gaps in relationships. Having an open and honest conversation about your recovery might help them see how you feel and bring you closer together. 

Who Would Benefit From Family Therapy?

Family therapy is not always the right choice. While it is generally useful and helps family members grow closer, there are some instances where it can cause more tension than relief. Family therapy may not be best for the following individuals:

  • Anyone with religious or cultural reservations about attending therapy
  • Anyone with severe paranoid or delusional symptoms
  • Anyone who experiences difficulty communicating due to mental or physical disability

If you have questions or are uncertain about how well family therapy would work for you and your loved ones, speak with your therapist. You should also prepare educational information to help alleviate any concerns before approaching your loved ones about attending joint sessions. 

Tips for Working Through Family Issues After Treatment

Many people take advantage of family therapy while getting treatment at a private facility because it provides a neutral space where you and your loved ones can work through any obstacles. However, not everyone has that opportunity due to scheduling conflicts, financial strain, or other factors. If you and your family could not connect during a rehabilitation program, you can still try the following options:

#1. Attend a 12-Step meeting or other self-help groups designed for friends and families with loved ones recovering from SUD. Getting support from other families who are going through similar experiences can be incredibly helpful. 

#2. Attend family therapy alongside individual therapy. Usually, these take place over a short period to resolve specific issues. 

#3. If you or your family have spiritual beliefs, then attend counseling together with a spiritual leader. 

#4. Talking openly about the facts of your situation and what you would like from a relationship. Set clear boundaries and try to avoid blaming language. 

Family dynamics are complicated and nuanced. You may have a rocky relationship with your loved ones due to your choices while under the influence of substances. Or you may have been raised in an abusive environment that contributed to your unhealthy life choices. Either way, deciding to become sober is easier when you have loved ones there to provide support and encouragement. You can take steps to repair any damage caused by past choices made by yourself or other members of your family. White House Recovery and Detox has psychotherapy incorporated into the treatment plan, and family therapy is one of the options we have available. Let us help you heal old wounds that may have developed throughout your life. Our facility provides a safe and neutral space where you can work through any domestic issues. Find out more about White House Recovery and Detox by contacting us today at (800) 510-5393.