Those active in recovery aren’t the only ones experiencing pain. Mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins – the entire family, essentially – can be heavily impacted when a loved one struggles with addiction; this is often because the person they once knew – and the life they had come to rely on – changes. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reminds us that as the family structure changes, dynamics between children and adults may change. New roles may be adopted, such as a grandparent taking care of the parent’s responsibilities, or one parent having more control over finances when they previously didn’t. Families go through a lot, and it’s only fitting that they should receive support and education in order to heal and recover, too.
Family education groups provide a safe space for family members of loved ones with addiction to learn more about addiction and how it’s affecting their family. Some family members may feel hurt, confused, isolated or abandoned and family education groups bridge some of the gaps left behind from addiction by providing support and resources for family members to stay strong during this challenging time. There are many topics/activities that may be focused on in a family education group, such as:
- Exploring addiction as a disease
- Learning to set boundaries
- Inspiration for healing
- And more
Mutual support groups greatly benefit family members because they provide them with a safe space to connect with other people going through similar struggles. Together, family members can build a healthy understanding for how they should move forward with their lives as well as some coping mechanisms to practice as well. For families in particular, mutual support groups may include Al-Anon, Codependents Anonymous, Adult Children of Alcoholics and, for teens, Al-Ateen.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Groups in Addiction Recovery found that family members who are most prepared for change when entering recovery programs are most likely to benefit from hope, coping skills and overall readiness to change. If your family is ready to seek support, be sure to go into it with an open heart and mind – you won’t regret it.
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.