Substance abuse ruins lives, and not just the lives of the addicts. Families, friends, and loved ones also suffer, as they deal with a failed relationship and an unreliable loved one. One of the most difficult aspects of recovery is rebuilding relationships that have fallen apart because of addiction. But it is possible to heal the hurt that has been caused, and with the right treatment, reconnecting with spouses, children, and siblings is a part of recovery.
It’s easy to see why someone with a substance abuse problem struggles to keep close ties with their family and friends. An addict, on their best day, can probably be found lying to family members, wasting money, and breaking the law. Then there are the moments of abuse, neglect, stealing, and being unfaithful. The spouse of an addict often has to pick up the slack for them, with regards to raising the children and financially supporting the family. Children of addicts often find themselves making excuses for their parent, or taking on the responsibilities of a parent. Over time, addicts become less and less dependable, as their life is taken over by the addiction. They may continue pulling away from their family, and they don’t really care it is happening.
Recovering the Family
So many families have been destroyed by an addiction. It is usually not until it is too late that the addict regrets what they put their family through. Sometimes, a recovered addict will complete treatment, only to find themselves completely alone. The lucky ones have families that stand by them and go through treatment with them. For many, celebrating their recovery is bittersweet because their new life is not filled with the people they love.
It is possible, and it is necessary to try to make amends. A person that has made it through treatment and is living a sober life should make plans to reconnect with loved ones. It won’t be easy, and some family members will still be holding onto the hurt and lack of trust that has built up. The best thing to do is seek professional help. If the loved one hasn’t gotten emotional help and counseling on their own yet, they probably have a lot of issues to work through. Family therapy will help all those involved to use strategies to improve their relationship, so that they can all heal.
As we celebrate recovery month, let’s make sure we also celebrate the family. These individuals have been through a lot, and any family member that is willing to stand by the recovering addict should be commended. It is normal to struggle with the addiction of a loved one, and addiction and recovery can be a very lonely time for families. But with the right help, we can be celebrating both recovery from addiction and the recovery of the family.