As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states, families have a foundation that can be significantly disrupted when addiction is involved; at the individual level, family members experience a rollercoaster of emotions that can affect the overall functioning of the family as a system, and, if not resolved, communication ties may be severed. If your family is currently in recovery from addiction, it will be long process – but with the right support system and resources, healing is possible.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is needed in order for a person to feel mentally, physically and spiritually fit. It is defined as,
“…Taking deliberate action to improve your physical, emotional and relational wellbeing.”
Family members – both individually and as a whole – need to incorporate self-care consistently in order to jumpstart the healing process; of course, family members need to be open and ready to heal in order for this to happen. According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, family members who have hope, who practice healthy coping skills and who are ready to change experience the most significant effects in family recovery. During this vulnerable time, family members can exercise a variety of self-care activities such as:
- Journaling – as it was highlighted in Medium in 2017, journaling can bring about numerous beneficial effects: it boosts creativity, it enhances a person’s ability to reach their goals, it serves as a springboard for recovery, it brings about clarity, it clears our emotions, it increases gratitude, it helps people heal their relationships and past, it balances and harmonizes, it strengthens a person’s sense of self and so much more.
- Alone Time – by spending some time alone, family members can recollect their thoughts and relax, something which can be hard to do amongst the chaos that becomes associated with addiction.
- Exercise – previous research has shown that exercise can not only improve a person’s physical health but can promote contentment by releasing the stress hormone cortisol.
- Connecting with others – family members in addiction recovery may feel as though nobody understands them, which is why 12-Step support groups such as Al-Anon may be very beneficial for healing.
Spiritual health is just as important in order for family members to regain their strength in themselves, others and the world. Addiction can often cause people to feel hopeless and lost, especially when they’ve placed so much trust in a person and have been let down countless times through the addiction. As the University of California, Riverside defines it, spiritual wellness is:
“A personal matter involving values and beliefs that provide a purpose in our lives…It is generally considered to be the search for meaning and purpose in human existence, leading one to strive for a state of harmony with oneself and others while working to balance inner needs with the rest of the world.”
Spiritual practices, such as meditation and yoga, are incredibly important for family members to regain their center amidst all of the anxiety, stress and otherwise worrisome thoughts that come with a loved one’s addiction. There are many self-care activities that can strengthen a person’s spiritual wellness, such as:
- Spending time in nature
- Hugging someone and cherishing that moment
- Listening to songs that speak to the heart
- Drawing, painting, or doing another creative exercise to let out the inner thoughts and feelings that may otherwise be suppressed
- Chiropractic services
- Reading a book that inspires
- And more
Spiritual self-care activities can bring about feelings of joy, comfort, strength, confidence, connection and more – and they can better enable family members to find inner strength as they push through the uncertainty that comes with addiction.
Self-Care and Social Support
12-Step programs for family members and friends (such as Al-Anon) can provide family members with a supportive group of people who are also trying to find calm amongst the storm. A 2016 study published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse found that Al-Anon members who sustain participation throughout the first 6 months are most likely to reap a number of benefits, such as learning how to handle problems with a loved one who is addicted, increased well-being and functioning and reduced victimization from verbal and physical abuse.
Family therapy is another form of social support that can foster improved family dynamics as individuals learn to understand one another better. A licensed therapist will be able to facilitate family sessions with respect and may ask questions or facilitate certain discussions to get family members talking about how they feel, what they need and ways they can overcome challenges related to the addiction.
Seek Help Today
If you have a loved one who is currently struggling with addiction, consider hosting an intervention. Please reach out to Cumberland Heights to speak with someone who may be able to help you find a professional interventionist so that your loved one can get the help they so desperately need.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.