Addiction impacts the family unit on many levels. Even if you do not share a living environment with family members, addiction can still affect your relationship with them. And, just as addiction is not an isolated disease, the decision to pursue sobriety will make a difference in their lives as well as yours. In cases where substance abuse has caused hurt and pain, it may be difficult to know how to talk to loved ones about addiction recovery. Even if you think they have given up on you or no longer care what you do with your life, it is important to share this aspect your addiction experience with them.
Taking the time to think about possible reactions, questions and concerns that may surface during your addiction recovery conversation may help you better prepare. It may also help you to decide whether it is best to speak to adult family members collectively or on a one-on-one basis. In any event, planning how to talk to your loved ones about your addiction recovery can make the process feel less daunting and enable you to better communicate your commitment to achieving sobriety.
Talking to Adults
- Plan to talk when you can have a window of uninterrupted time
- Be flexible. Pay attention to unexpected opportunities to share
- Talk to a counselor about how best to approach family members who may be unresponsive.
- Prepare responses to questions such as…
- How long will the recovery process last
- Location of the treatment facility
- How will treatment costs be met
- How will the recovery process affect the individual or family as a whole
- Will addiction recovery impact the current family dynamic
- What can family members do individually or collectively to support the process
- Be prepared to address difficult issues such as abuse, hurt or embarrassment that the addiction may have caused the family member or unit.
Talking to Children
Because children are often confused about the behavior of an addicted parent, it is important to talk to children personally about addiction and recovery. Children often assume blame for the parent’s addiction thinking, in some instances, that they are to be blamed. When talking to children about addiction recovery, it is also important to:
- Be sober
- Make sure that the child has your undivided attention and is not distracted by surroundings, siblings, television or friends.
- Keep the discussion age appropriate and focused on how addiction recovery will directly impact the child’s life.
- Be honest and truthful about the problem
- Be prepared to answer questions from a child’s perspective.
- Help the child to feel safe in sharing their feelings, concerns and fears.
- Apologize for any pain caused by the addiction and help the child to let go of any responsibility, shame or embarrassment.
To further address this sensitive issue, the National Association of Children of Alcoholics has developed the “7 Cs of Addiction” to help children from homes with addiction learn and understand that: they didn’t cause it, they can’t cure it, they can’t control it, they can care for themselves by, communicating their feelings, making healthy choices and celebrating themselves.
Recovery from addiction is an important and sometimes uncomfortable process. Having the support of loved ones can go a long way in making the process more successful and beneficial for the addict and their family. The inclusion of loved ones into the recovery process has become a key component in many rehab programs because family and friends play a valuable supporting role in sobriety maintenance.
To get more information about family therapy programs and other services for the treatment of addiction, call White Sands Treatment Center. We can help you find the recovery program that best meets your individual needs. Our customized programs can help you achieve and maintain lasting sobriety.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.