Life After Addiction: What Does the Family Healing Process Look Like?

Life After Addiction: What Does the Family Healing Process Look Like?

Once an addict decides to recover, his or her family must also begin the healing process

If you or someone in your family has suffered from addiction, you are likely familiar with the conflict, betrayal and disappointment it brings to the family unit. Because of these various negative impacts, many people actually consider addiction to be a family illness. This means that an addict’s family must devote their own time and efforts to the recovery process in order to fully heal. But what is involved in this healing process? Often, it includes the dedication of personal time and space for family members to collect their thoughts and feelings. In addition to this, a meaningful attempt must be made to rebuild trust. And lastly, a successful family recovery includes involvement in family therapy or support groups.

Personal Time and Space

Addicts may assume that their families will be waiting excitedly and with open arms once they get out of rehab. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The effects of their past addictions likely caused great distress to family members. For example, an opiate addict may have repeatedly skipped plans with his wife and children to use opiates instead. It takes time for a family to move past situations like these, even when they know the addict is now making better choices. For this reason, it is essential that the family allow themselves personal time and space to meditate on their feelings so they can find peace and forgiveness. Some families require minimal time to do this while others may take considerably longer.

Rebuilding Trust

Once the family has decided they are ready to forgive one another, they then enter a time in which trust is reestablished. The number one way that addicts can regain the trust of their families is to be open and honest about everything. This can be hard at times, and it may be tempting to hide certain feelings or actions. For example, a recovering opioid addict may feel that it is not necessary to tell her husband where she kept her old stash of pills. Even if she is not using them, trust may be broken. Because of this, it is essential that the addict and the family remain honest in every possible scenario.

Family Therapy and Support Groups

Throughout these first two stages, and even while the addict is still in rehab, the family will benefit considerably from involvement in family therapy and support groups. Therapy is a great place for the family to come together and discuss their feelings, concerns and conflicts with the help of a trained therapist. Through these sessions, the entire family unit learns how to cope with the ever-changing environment of addiction recovery. Support groups, such as Nar-Anon, provide a place for the families of addicts to come together to share experiences, build relationships, and learn from one another. Just as rehab changes the life of an addict, therapy and support groups can change the lives of the other members of the family.

Get Help for Addiction

Addiction is a condition that is damaging not only to the addict, but also to loved ones. If you or someone you know has become addicted to opiates or any other substance, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about addiction treatment options.

“This too shall pass. Change is the only constant. In order to take a breath you must release your breath.” 

–Noah benShea