We have earlier posted about the impact of addiction on a family; in this post we look at what happens when a loved one finally gets help at a rehab, and what the family can expect.

When an addicted family member finally enters recovery, the rest of the family often breathes a collective sigh of relief. For months or years, they have likely experienced many emotional responses to the chaos of substance abuse – anger, fear, guilt, shame, embarrassment, frustration, disappointment, and helplessness. With the addict in rehab, the family members sense that the nightmare is over, the painful feelings are in the past, and their loved one may rejoin the family as a fully participating member. At long last, the family can now hope to return to normal.

Such hopeful anticipation is common, but it fails to consider that family dysfunction has become the norm during the period of substance abuse. The void created by removing the problematic substance is not automatically filled with healthy feelings and behaviours. Non-addicted spouses and partners may continue to experience lingering resentments, find it difficult to engage in conversation, and feel uneasy about re-establishing a close relationship with their newly recovered family member. Children may have found alternatives to home as a place of safety, continue to suffer from the previous absence of parental involvement, or simply have grown up and lost the opportunity to experience the presence of a parent. 

Families need to recognize that recovery is a process, not an event. The family’s working dynamics, previously skewed by substance abuse, will essentially need to be dismantled and reconstructed. Achieving sobriety is the first step – a courageous act to be regarded with gratitude, respect, and acceptance of the addiction as a disease. All family members who are willing to become involved must then commit to maintaining an ongoing recovery lifestyle, which requires leaving behind old, unhealthy patterns of relating to each other. Recovery requires respect for the interests and rights of other family members, willingness to explore new ways of interacting as a family unit, and communicating legitimate needs without fear of rejection or ridicule. Each family will experience its own pace of recovery.

The counsellors at Hope Trust help in initiating a process of healing for the affected family members. The Hope Family Support Program provides education and counselling for family members of those in recovery. Focused sessions, interventions, communication exercises are a part of the program and has proven to help the addict and his or her family in continuing life that is healthy, happy and Hope-ful!!

We invite you visit our website to learn more about the Hope Family Support Program: www.hopetrustindia.com

What happens to the family of an addict in recovery