When someone in the family suffers from a substance use disorder (SUD), the whole family unit is affected. Addiction has a ripple effect, and the associated consequences hurt everyone. How can we better help families restore and heal when faced with this challenge?
There are several key steps that can be taken to help families in need. To start, it’s important for family members to recognize the signs of addiction, and to understand how to support and ultimately, help restore the family unit. From identifying the signs of SUD to providing resources and support, family members can make an enormous difference in the recovery process.
Identify the Signs of Addiction
For many, the first step in getting help is recognizing the signs of addiction. Unfortunately, spotting the signs of SUD isn’t always simple. The signs of addiction depend on the substance and the individual; an individual’s behavior, physical appearance, attitude, and mood can all be affected, such as:
• Changes in physical and mental health
• Social withdrawal
• Changes in appearance
• Loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed
• Decline in school or work performance
• Increased secrecy
The effects of an addiction can be hard to ignore, but by paying close attention to changes in behavior, family members can spot the signs and get the help needed.
Provide Support and Resources
Once family members are aware of the addiction, they can provide support to the individual. While this may seem difficult, it’s essential to remember that these individuals are still loved ones and need the family’s help to get through this difficult period.
Beyond offering emotional support, family members can provide the individual with resources that can help them in recovery. This could include finding a mental health professional or therapist, joining a support group, taking advantage of addiction treatment programs, or providing access to any other treatment resources and options that may be available.
Connecting individuals with the right resources is an essential first step to help restore the family, and a counselor or other professional can provide personalized advice and guidance.
Educate Yourself and Others
Families should also strive to educate themselves about addiction, substance use disorders, and the recovery process. Understanding the basics of addiction can help families comprehend the situation and better learn ways to handle and resolve conflicts.
Educating others, including family and friends, is also important. Addiction comes with a stigma, but family members can help others recognize the potential dangers and how to best help the individual.
Seek Professional Help
Sometimes, the effects of addiction extend far beyond the individual. It’s not uncommon for family members to develop their own mental health issues in the throes of an addiction, such as depression or anxiety. In these cases, it’s important to seek additional support for the family as a whole.
Family counseling can help families learn how to reconnect with one another, understand their unique dynamics, and learn healthy coping strategies and better communication skills. Family counseling can also provide family members with the tools and support needed to restore the family.
Addiction affects the entire family unit. If someone in the family is suffering from substance use disorder, it’s important to recognize the signs, provide support to the individual, educate yourself and others, and seek professional help. By taking these steps, families can ensure that everyone is getting the help and support needed to restore the family and begin the healing process.