When your loved one enters treatment for substance abuse, you may hear the phrase, “Addiction is a family disease.” What does that mean? The disease of addiction affects everyone in your family, but any dysfunction within your family dynamic may have directly or indirectly paved the way for the development of a substance misuse disorder as well. When your son begins to pursue his recovery, you and the other members of your family can play a significant role in his success.
1. Preventing a Relapse
Unfortunately, we have yet to discover a cure for addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance misuse disorder has similar relapse rates to other chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and asthma.
As a supportive parent, you can help your son avoid a relapse. However, if he does slip up and return to substance use, it does not mean he has failed or that he is somehow morally deficient. What it does mean, however, is that you need to be patient and help reinforce the benefits of remaining sober, resisting triggers and cravings with healthy coping mechanisms.
You can help an addicted loved one head off a relapse by staying alert to the warning signs, which include the following.
- They stop actively participating in their group therapy or 12-step program.
- They resume hanging out with old drinking or drug buddies.
- They are dealing with a lot of stress, anxiety or troubling emotions.
- They respond with hostility if you mention any changes in their behavior.
2. Attending Therapy as a Family
Family therapy can be tremendously beneficial for helping restore a healthy family dynamic. Behaviors such as enabling, co-dependency and failure to set appropriate boundaries can all give rise to a substance misuse disorder. A qualified family therapist can help strengthen the interactions between each member of the family by pointing out the various roles everyone has played in relation to each other, and how those might have contributed to any dysfunction. A therapist can also give you “homework” to help you learn how to rebuild healthy relationships.
3. Providing Encouragement and Love
Though your son’s addiction may have strained your relationship and been a significant source of stress in your life, your love for him remains. Be sure he knows that you are ready and willing to be a partner in his addiction recovery journey by being there for him on days when he’s struggling. The path to sobriety has many ups and downs, and it’s not always easy to keep moving in a positive direction. Encourage your son to focus on his self-care, such as meditating, exercising, eating a balanced diet and taking breaks when he needs to.
Family Members Play a Crucial Role in Recovery
Though there are no shortcuts in addiction recovery, you can be part of your son’s ultimate success and happiness in life. The first step begins with finding a treatment center where he can get the help he needs to learn how to enjoy a substance-free life. Contact us at Spearhead Lodge if you’re ready to know more about the benefits we provide to young men wrestling with substance abuse issues.