Role of Family in Addiction Recovery


We all are aware of the life and living cycle of a human being. Between birth and death, there is a lot that happens which shapes our identity. There are certain traits which are inbuilt or inherited and then there are some characters that we build as we go through certain states and situations, which add-on to our identity at various points of time. Now my question here is- What do you identify your first identity as?

Birth; your name given by your family; schooling on the basis of parents’ name; college on the basis of your parents’ name and your marks; your resume requires’ your family details; your bio-data for marriage needs your family details. So everywhere, the family stands first, which makes it your first identity.

The reason I am quoting this point is that family has its role everywhere. Even in addiction, it has its unequivocal involvement. Addiction is known as a Family Disease. It cannot be denied that family has its significant role to play in enabling addiction and ending it as well.

Once an addict has been treated and has started his journey of recovery, your role as family does not just end there. Rather it is just the beginning and you have to make sure that your loved one takes it to a long way. Without your knowledge and support, it is not going to be possible. There are certain definite steps that you as a family need to take, so that your whole family can enjoy a sober and happy recovery life.

Be Alert and On the Watch

Do not commit the same mistakes again. Having your emotions attached with someone might not be something that you can control, but a sure measure that can be taken is to keep them under your control.

You should not get over-emotional whenever your recovering addict is trying to get you in his trap. You must keep in mind, all the things he did previously. If there is an excess of any behavior, which you think, was previously used, to go for using substance, you must immediately get aware of it and take a tough step. You will have to let go your gullible nature and be more sagacious.

Be alert about his routine and daily activities. Trust him in what he is doing, but not so blindly that he would take you for a ride. Know that he is not supposed to take you for granted. Have all your questions answered about any kind of deviations that you see or hear of in a clear manner.

Always discuss whatever move he wants to make and then considering its practicality and profitability, you can decide to finance or support it. But do not get too much defensive and doubtful about his capability. That is a tough job, right?

Do Not Leave Him Free

‘Empty mind is devil’s workshop’. You must have been hearing this since your childhood. So when you leave him without any work or engagement in the family, he would drag himself to drugs/alcohol and maybe utilize his pent-up energy in using it in newer ways. Understand the line of his privacy and his alibis to use drugs in private, hiding from you. Show your full involvement in his talks and tasks. Make sure that he does not take anything casually. If he loses his sincerity and starts frittering away time, he would lose his awareness, which might turn out to be a reason for relapse. In treatment, they are taught many unwritten philosophies, such as No Free Meals and Being Aware Is Being Alive. They must practice them and for practicing them you need to be their role models too. Also, make sure that his circadian rhythm does not change, i.e. his sleep cycle and even eating habits remain healthy.

Be Emotionally Available

Always be emotionally available to him. There are times when we all feel low. Apparently, those who become addicts, their coping mechanism is automated towards drugs and alcohol or self harm only. So, whenever you see that your loved one is getting sad and negative about life, or has chosen the silent corner for himself for a persistent time period, you need to intervene. Cook for him and ask him to help, play good music, go out for a nice lunch or dinner, refresh some childhood memories. There are many things to do together. Treatment does not get over with the addict getting out of the rehabilitation center. Don’t take him lightly ever. He needs the feeling of love and belonging, more than anybody else needs. And at the same time, don’t commit this mistake of asking him to consume a little bit of alcohol or smoke once a while at social gatherings, thinking that might uplift his mood and you are keeping an eye on him, so he won’t go out of control. An addict can never settle at peanuts. He would get back to the same intensity again.

Don’t be Scared

Do not ignore his anger and over that, do not be scared of it. Don’t be scared of the self harm threats he would be driveling before you. If he is losing his calm over petty matters and snapping at everything you say, beware then. For it indicates that he is again going to use his substance. If you become submissive, which is what he wants, you will lose this battle with addiction. You have to practice Tough Love. Forget about what he used to do earlier when his wishes were not fulfilled. You do not have to be his Jinn again. He knows when to rub the lamp, but you need to decide whether your emotions have to come out or not, even if he is trying to be forceful. The moment you give-in and hand over your emotional control to him, he would relapse. No anger, no threats of self harm, no abuses shall work on you. You need to be stronger than him. Not all the time do you have to be pleasant with him and specially for his irrational demands and behaviors. Don’t let him overpower you. Identify when is he trying to do that. He cannot raise his unnecessary demands, financial/fake emotional/unimportant medical needs over your necessities and routine. He would be testing your patience most of the times. He would be trying to see if he still has control over you, so don’t give-in his tactics. Let him know that no drama would work in your house and on you.

Addictive behavior can be spotted in any phase of life. Those behaviors would be leading to relapse. For example, excessive shopping, which you might take as being normal to pamper self once a while; but if you see a large amount of money being wasted on shopping, you need to beware again. Spending too much of time on phone, internet, movies, and preferring to be isolated for long hours. Even eating too much is a sign of approaching relapse. These are just actions that a recovering addict takes as substitutes of his substance and to find his temporary solace. You can always call the rehab for help and continue going to Family Association Meetings. But being a family member of a recovering addict, Never Give Up.


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