Recovery Is a Family Affair

February 14, 2023

By Shelly Parkman, LPC, LCAC, Director of Substance Use Disorder Services at Prairie View

Almost half of Americans have a family member or close friend with a substance use disorder.

When responding to a loved one’s addiction, family members often experience major challenges such as:

  • Frustration
  • Emotional challenges
  • Financial problems and lost connections
  • Increased risk for other family members
  • Exhaustion
  • Poor self care

There are also roles that are often played out within the family system. First, there’s the Chemically Dependent Person. He/She is usually surrounded by the Chief Enabler, Family Hero, Scapegoat, Mascot, and the Lost Child. Each of these roles develop out of a need to create stability and survival.

The Importance of Self Care
Remember, you can’t control the actions of a loved one with an SUD, but you can control how you treat yourself. Self care needs to be a priority, even if it is only for a few minutes each day.

The basic principles of health required by everyone are sleep, nutrition, exercise, sunshine and positive content.

  • Sleep: At least seven hours of good, quality sleep on most nights
  • Food: Eat food that fuels you. Especially when struggling, you need to eat plenty of protein and limit empty calories.
  • Exercise: Just get moving. To get started, maybe just take a 30-minute walk around your neighborhood. Keep it simple.
  • Time Outside: “There is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” Pay attention to sights, sounds and smells outside.
  • Surround Yourself with Positivity: What makes you laugh? What makes you hopeful? Which friends enrich your life?

Other helpful practices include meditation, making time for yourself and your personal interests, learning a new set of skills, and simply being aware of the ways addiction affects the family. Family or individual therapy can help family members to better understand and change their own behaviors and reactions that may be contributing factors.

Recovery is a Family Affair
If your loved one is in treatment, things will begin to change. Each family member is adjusting to changes, starting to deal with past conflicts, and establishing new routines. Amid all these changes, it is important to take care of yourself. 

Recovery isn’t just an adjustment for the person in treatment – it’s an adjustment for you and the whole family. For some time, you may have assumed roles or taken care of tasks that were your loved one’s responsibilities. As time passes, you and your loved one may need to learn new ways of relating to each other and different ways of sharing activities and chores. 

Recovery is a family affair, and as you seek your own recovery, there are a few points to remember:

  • You are participating in treatment and/or recovery for yourself, not just for the sake of the addict.
  • Your loved one’s recovery, sobriety, or abstinence does not depend on you.
  • Your family’s recovery does not depend on the recovery of the person who used substances.
  • You did not cause your loved one’s substance use disorder. It is not your fault.

If You Need Help
If you believe you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, reach out to a professional substance use disorder counselor for an evaluation.

Prairie View offers outpatient substance use treatment for adults and youth, including substance use evaluations and individual, family and group therapy for substance use and support for maintaining sobriety. Prairie View also offers a Medication-Assisted Treatment program to help relieve the withdrawal symptoms and cravings. MAT can be used to assist individuals with alcohol and opioid use disorder.

Prairie View is a dual diagnosis facility so other mental health needs can be met simultaneously.

For more information, call 800-992-6292.