Addicts frequently dread having to include their families in their struggle. One of the great anxieties that come with addiction is the fear of being a burden. Even before an addict knows they have a problem, they believe that having a substance abuse problem is shameful.
This is one of the main things that contribute to addicts procrastinating recovery. The common cultural viewpoint is that addicts are weak or foolish, which is why they are addicts. If you believe that, it would be nearly impossible to admit that you were an addict to anyone.
And then, on top of that, let’s say you finally did admit you had a problem with yourself. That doesn’t mean you are comfortable admitting you have a problem with other people. And that certainly doesn’t mean you will be comfortable getting help from your family in recovery.
But you should get help from your family. Of course, you should get help from anyone you can, but family is unique. Today, we will talk about how and why family is such a resource for addicts.
A Big Disclaimer First
Before we started though, we have to acknowledge something: Not every family is going to be equally helpful to every addict. Some families have more financial resources than others. Some have more time to spend than others or more emotional energy to give.
But in the end, there are some families that just cannot be relied upon. We do not like to admit this. One of the many problems that addicts go through is that they perceive this to be the case even when it is not the case. Bringing this up feels like it might validate that perception.
It is important to bring it up even while risking that, however, because trying to lean on a family that you cannot lean on will just hurt you in the end. And it is important to recognize that.
But Most Families Will Want to Help
On the flip side of the coin, most families will want to help their loved ones. This is hard for people to accept even when they are not addicts. Overcoming that disbelief is one of the greatest signs of maturity. That is by no means an easy thing to do, however.
The big thing you need to understand in order to believe in the family is the psychology of the family unit. After all, humans have been families for thousands of years. But why?
The Psychology of the Family
Consider how society is ordered. There are all kinds of rules that society imposes on people that they simply do not follow. Drugs are a good example—they are illegal, but most people do them.
This is because society can structure itself however it wants, but it will never be powerful enough to override human nature. That is the psychological layer. People do not congregate into family units because it is easy, nor do they do it because it makes them happy.
It is certainly easier than everyone trying to survive on their own, and it has the potential for a person to make them happy. But what it really comes down to is that people want to both give and receive psychological certainty. They want to believe that they can make mistakes and be forgiven, and they want the benefits that come with forgiving mistakes themselves.
What a Family Can do for Your Recovery
We are going to break down what your family can do for you into three general categories. A family can do so much for you that going over every single thing would take too long.
The three categories are practical help, emotional help, and logistical help. But here is what you need to remember about all three of these things: None of them is as intensive as you might think. A family member can do a little but help a lot.
Of all the ways a family member can help with addiction, this is the most hands-on and the most intensive. It is also, in a way, the easiest. Practical help really just means assistance with getting you places and doing things. That can mean driving you around or helping you clean.
What makes this easy is that it does not require any special skills.
Meanwhile, emotional help is probably the hardest. There are parts of it that are easy; most emotional help boils down to being encouraging towards recovery. But the family member must also be patient. Patience is the deciding factor in how helpful they are to your emotions.
An important note is that emotional help does not mean “fixing” your emotions. It means offering the support they can. But good support includes good boundaries.
Lots of people overlook this. Logistical help is all about accruing knowledge and keeping track of things. What medication is best for dealing with detox? How do you work while in recovery? Where do you move to get away from the environment that enabled your addiction?
There are so many layers of complexity to addiction and recovery that many addicts find themselves unable to navigate it even if they want to. Just getting help with that navigation can be the difference between a difficult recovery and a borderline impossible recovery.
The real thing that separates a family member from a random person is that a family member knew you before you were an addict. While this is not universal, many people struggle to see addicts as anything other than the addiction which troubles them.
This can even be true for people whose profession is to help addicts. This is not always a bad thing. Treating an addict like an addict is somewhat realistic. But addicts know when they are being looked at that way. And it can validate their humanity to be looked at as people.
The road to recovery is possible. Click here if you want to learn more before you get started.