For those who have a family member struggling with an addiction or a mental health problem, they may already be aware that familial support is invaluable. In cases of drug addiction, for example, many patients seek treatment as a direct result of positive family involvement and intervention.
Moving past denial
For a person to admit that they have a problem is a tremendous step. Regardless of whether they’re addicted to drugs or battling severe depression, it is rarely easy for them to confide in the people closest to them.
The good news is convincing someone they should start therapy is convincing them they have a problem, and this is the start of the recovery journey. Not only does it show the person is ready to get help, it also means the family has undertaken the ordeal of broaching the subject. Starting the conversation is difficult and many struggle to come to terms with the idea that their parent, sibling, child or grandparent has a problem.
It’s also natural to worry about pushing the person away and making their condition worse by raising the issue with them. However, this delay causes addiction and mental health problems to exacerbate while they are being ignored rather than treated, so is only likely to hinder the process.
Be involved and be prepared
Family involvement is an important aspect of recovery because a person is more likely to agree to therapy if they know they have the backing and support of their loved ones. However, even when a person has taken the first step toward recovery it is still a turbulent journey ahead.
It is not uncommon for the sufferer to push people away in the midst of their addiction or mental health problems. As the supporter in this situation, it is a discomfiting and trying time in which one or more may be abused, manipulated, taken for granted, lied to and hurt on several occasions. Be prepared for the ups and downs of the recovery process.
Remember the actions of a loved one in this situation do not reflect what they’re actually feeling. The anger they project onto someone else is more likely to be anger they feel towards themselves for the things they have done and the way they feel.
They may also be embarrassed about their condition and, frequently, addicts and those with mental health issues push people away because they think they’re protecting them in the long-run.
Call for help
Enlisting a therapist to assist the intervention process can be helpful because the experience and expertise they bring can help inform the way in which an addict or someone with a mental health problem is approached.
Addictions and mental health conditions take a toll and not just on the people suffering from them. They can be physically and mentally exhausting for everybody involved which is why entire families can potentially benefit from therapy in much the same way a patient can.
Attending sessions may help the family to understand what the person is going through, how they can develop coping mechanisms for themselves and learn about what can be expected from each stage of recovery.
Therapy can also be an invaluable tool for helping families to recognise any negative behavior patterns which may have developed. For example, consider the situation of a drug addict. If a constant cycle of lending money, defending the person’s actions and denying there is a problem develops then this is enabling the addict to continue down a destructive path.
It is hard to break the cycle or realise what is happening, but an addict cannot be allowed to continue feeding their addiction without experiencing any of the consequences. If they can’t see the outcome of their damaging behaviours and are always being excused or bailed out, they’re unlikely to seek the required help.
It is also common to be angry with the addict for what they have done to themselves and the family, cutting them out of family life because it’s too hard to believe any claims to being clean. These feelings can be applicable where a loved one is dealing with stress, anxiety or a range of mental health issues. Rebuilding relationships that have been damaged so badly may be more ably attempted with professional help.
Recovery is a long process
The support that a family provides to a patient recovering from an addiction or mental health condition is essential to their success. Recovery is long and difficult but there is plenty of help available. From group and individual therapy to supportive and dynamic recovery workshops, it is possible to build a strong family unit once again.
If you have a family member who has an addiction or mental health condition and you would like to explore treatment options for them, please feel free to contact Life Works in the strictest of confidence and we will be more than happy to help.