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How to Deal With a Family Member’s On-and-Off Recovery

When you have a family member in recovery, there are some intentional steps you can take to help handle the situation

When you have a family member in recovery, relapses do occur. This is not to say your loved one will not improve. Recent discoveries have shown that there are even some similarities between addiction and chronic diseases such as cancer, type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There are also other factors such as stress and drug use or availability. Some causes for addiction are genetic as well. Just as some individuals are predisposed to heart disease, some are predisposed for addiction. This is not to say that if you grow up in a certain environment or have certain genetics you will spend your life as an addict but that it is important to be aware of these factors.

When a family member receives treatment in Anchorage, he or she takes steps forward toward a healthy life. The good news is that the statistics for recovery go up dramatically when an individual is clean for five years or more. After this extended period of sobriety, approximately 86 percent stay sober. After one to twelve months, it is estimated that 36 percent stay sober. Keep in mind that statistics do vary, for example this source from the National Institute of Health, short-term remission rates vary between 20 and 50 percent. It is important not to let these statistics discourage you. When an individual is involved in support programs while in treatment, they are often very helpful in aiding recovery in the long-term.

As a family member, you have the potential to be a vital part of your recovery process for your loved one in Anchorage. Do your best to work with them. In many circumstances, this is not easy as trust has been broken. But once you take intentional steps, you can start the healing process and grow back together even with the ups and downs of substance abuse. The following are some specific steps to take when dealing with your family member’s addiction:

  • Educate yourself about the details of addiction – It is very important to know the warning signs so you are not taken by surprise if your family member is using again. Addiction can be hard to spot at times. Any sudden changes in behavior, such as a neglect of personal hygiene, can be indicators of substance abuse. Other symptoms can be extreme irritability, anger or even violence. When you know about these symptoms, you will know if your loved one has relapsed.
  • Let the family member experience the full consequences from their addiction – Sadly, a family member cannot be loved into recovery. For authentic change to occur, individuals with addiction must hit bottom and want to change by his or her own free will. When you rescue the family member from any consequences, such as calling in to say he or she is sick when they are not, then more consequences will have to take place before the need for true recovery takes place.
  • Seek out professional help for yourself – If you find yourself encountering unhealthy behavior from a family member, do not hesitate to seek out professional help for yourself. Go to a therapist and talk about your own problems and struggles. Share specifically how you are frustrated and tell how you feel. In many cases an individual will focus his or her energy and time on the addicted family member, and this leads to self-neglect and stress buildup. It is essential to find healthy ways to reduce stress. Exercise, such as yoga, running, swimming or most other physical activities, will help you feel more relaxed, satisfied and even rested. Do not overlook this, or you will regret it later. The more you are stressed, the more likely you will pursue unhealthy behavior yourself.

Go to AA or Al-Anon Meetings

Al-Anon is specifically for families of alcoholics. At these meetings you can find support and encouragement from other family members who know how you feel because they have family members who are addicts. You can also attend open AA meetings with your loved ones. This is a great idea because it provides support for your loved one and also encourages them to continue going to meetings.  While on the surface it may seem that addiction only affects the addict, the truth is addiction is a family disease because it affects the entire family in Anchorage.

Recovery is a journey that takes time. Unfortunately, there will be ups and downs during the process. It is possible some of the downs may include a relapse or going back to rehab. Ultimately, addiction comes down to choices like whether or not an individual chooses to continue to pursue unhealthy behaviors or to make choices that support a healthy lifestyle. Regardless of what decisions your family member makes, be sure to take good care of yourself. This is one of the most important steps you can take so you can support your loved ones. Again, remember that recovery is a lifelong process. If you need help, do not hesitate to get it whether for yourself or your loved one who struggles with substance abuse. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline, and our counselors can get you answers to any questions you may have about addiction or recovery.