Addicts and their loved ones can easily attest to the fact that the addiction places a strain on relationships. Many people would consider their relationships with an addicted loved one to be beyond the point of repair. The tie between these two individuals has been severed due to lies, outrageous behavior, and all of the other hallmarks of a rampant addiction. However, there is a potential for healing when addiction recovery is a priority.
Addiction recovery is challenging work. It means redefining your identity, rebuilding your world, and finding new ways to cope with life’s struggles. If you take the proper steps to receive professional treatment, your effort may pay off. Families can often rebuild broken bonds when the addict is receiving treatment.
How do families begin to take those first steps toward healing? Understanding what addiction recovery is and what it looks like in real life is a great first step.
What is Addiction Recovery?
When many people think of addiction recovery, they envision a room full of people discussing their problems over stale donuts and bad coffee. They go around the room, introducing themselves and admitting their addiction to the crowd aloud. These meetings go by many different names depending on your addiction. You might attend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, just to name a few.
These meetings are certainly crucial in the addiction recovery process. Many people swear by the doctrine presented in these twelve-step recovery programs. They love the community and accountability that exists within these small groups. Some groups meet weekly. Other groups meet more often for addicts who need an additional level of support. However, these groups are often peer-led and lack the wise counsel of a professional substance abuse counselor.
Addiction recovery involves so much more than these simple peer-led community programs. If you struggle with an addiction or want to seek help for a loved one, you should really consider investigating a professional counselor.
The process of addiction recovery means that an addict will need to come up with an entirely new strategy for how they manage their life. They will need new relationships, new hobbies, and improved coping skills. Putting all of the pieces together can be extremely challenging while going through the physical symptoms of withdrawal.
Community programs simply do not have the capability of offering the deeper levels of support necessary to successfully kick an addiction. They cannot dive deep into the psyche, offer personalized feedback, or give you suggestions for better coping skills. This is where professional therapy can truly help you to develop a new lifestyle. A trained professional can walk you through the steps to addiction recovery, lending you their experience and an unbiased perspective.
Steps to Addiction Recovery
Addiction recovery is a long road for most people. Each journey is completely unique though you may find some similarities among the stories. Regardless of how unique each story is, the steps to addiction recovery are very similar. Most addicts will move through these early stages of intervention and treatment at some point in their lives, even if they do not actively pursue addiction recovery long-term.
The first step toward addiction recovery is awareness of the problem. An addict suddenly realizes that they drink too heavily. They might notice that their friends are not using drugs in quite the same way that they are. It is causing health problems, financial strain, or legal issues. Even if they are not quite ready to part with their addiction, awareness is the first step toward recovery.
Once an addict is aware of their problem, they must make a commitment to resolve it. This will look a little different for everyone based on their personal preferences, their insurance, their finances, and even the nature of their addiction. Commitment comes when they select a treatment option. They may make the phone calls, sign the paperwork, or schedule the appointment.
Getting started on addiction recovery can take a while, and there may be a large timespan between awareness and commitment. However, at this stage, you can really begin to see the addict making changes to their behavior and mindset.
Rehabilitation is perhaps the longest stage of addiction recovery. It means that an addict will have to discover an entirely new way to live. They must be able to spot the people, places, and things that trigger them to want to abuse substances. Creating new relationships, moving to a new part of town, staying in a rehab facility or sober living space, and even managing their time more effectively are all important aspects of rehabilitation. For most people, rehabilitation means starting fresh with an entirely blank slate.
Even deeper than these major changes, rehabilitation requires an addict to really face what caused the addiction in the first place. Sorting through these facts and experiences can help to make better decisions for the future. They may be able to face their feelings head-on for the first time in years, with the aid of a professional.
Of course, most people will note that rehabilitation begins with one of the more difficult aspects of addiction recovery: detox. An addict must allow their body to cleanse itself of all substances, a process which can be extremely uncomfortable and even medically dangerous. Some professionals recommend that this only be done under the supervision of medical staff because it can cause some severe symptoms like trouble breathing or rapid heart rate.
Addicts may experience these withdrawal symptoms for months following the last time they use. They may feel depression, anxiety, irritability, or trouble sleeping. All of the symptoms can feel overwhelming and miserable. It is crucial that they receive professional support during this tumultuous time to prevent them from turning back to drugs or alcohol to ease the pain of detoxification and its lingering side effects.
Unfortunately, an addiction is not something that will ever simply go away of its own accord. Maintenance will be necessary for a lifetime. However, an addict may not require the same level of treatment for the remainder of their life. They may be able to settle into the routine of going to peer-led programs instead of living in inpatient facilities or regularly seeing a licensed professional counselor.
They must always be on-guard against situations and people that could cause them to relapse. Identifying the triggers that make relapse likely should have taken place in the rehabilitation stage. During maintenance, you will be calling upon these skills far more often to help you navigate the ups and downs of daily life.
Addicts who reach the maintenance stage should have a solid plan in place for what they will do when they want to use again. Maybe they will call a friend, schedule an appointment with their counselor, or go for a bike ride. Whatever things they find helpful, they should be able to articulate those and be capable of acting on them if they need to. This can take a lot of hard work and commitment, and it may always be a challenge.
What Does Therapy Offer for Addiction Recovery?
It is important to note that addiction recovery truly begins before professional help is found. The addict must first acknowledge that he or she has a serious problem and want to receive the help found in the offices of counselors, therapists, and psychiatrists. Without this fundamental piece, addiction recovery is bound to be unsuccessful.
Once an addict makes the decision to pursue professional help, there are many different steps that you can take to accomplish this. Many of these therapies will attempt to teach the same tools and skills. However, the degree of intensity will vary with each treatment type.
For those who are just beginning their journey, an alcohol or drug treatment recovery program may be the best option. These are ideal for individuals who need to detox under the care of a doctor or medical professional. Inpatient treatments like this are often very expensive, but they provide a completely safe environment that is sheltered from the rest of the world. It is much simpler to avoid using substances when you are physically away from the temptation.
If this level of treatment feels too restrictive or is too pricey for you, individual therapy is a good way to go. This gives you time with a one-on-one professional to dive deep into your psyche. The goal is often to identify the cause of your addiction and how you can better manage those feelings for the future. Learning new coping skills, identifying triggers for substance abuse, and learning time-management skills are all covered in individual therapy.
Group therapy is often a facet of inpatient programs, but outpatient group therapy exists as well. This provides you with an opportunity to connect with other individuals facing similar struggles. Unlike community programs like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, group therapy is typically led for a licensed professional counselor or psychologist. It is a great way to connect with others, and these groups often teach valuable skills as well.
When it comes to improving yourself and seeking out treatment for an addiction, there are many different avenues toward healing. Most of these treatment options teach the same few skills:
- Time management
- Coping skills
- Identifying triggers
- Developing new interests
- Building new relationships
- Putting healthy patterns in place
Working on the self is critical if you want to leave your addiction in the past. All of these skills work together to radically alter your life and behavior patterns. This work is necessary and lays the groundwork for beginning to heal broken relationships caused by the harmful patterns of addiction.
Choosing Family Therapy
As an addict begins to come to terms with their treatment plan, it is important to begin incorporating others into their rehabilitation. Family therapy should be a significant component of every treatment plan whenever possible. The past behavior of an addict would have had a major impact on family members and close friends. Those relationships will need to be rebuilt on a new foundation.
During family therapy, those who participate are given the safe space they need to voice their concerns and vent their frustrations. Under the watchful guidance of a skilled family therapist, these painful conversations can finally take place. It allows family members to feel heard and understood by their loved one. Mending the relationship comes more easily when both parties feel they are being listened to and understood.
Meanwhile, the presence of loved ones also demonstrates that the addict is still surrounded by people who care. One of the hardest aspects of recovery is finding new relationships or strengthening older and healthier relationships. Seeing the support of loved ones who genuinely care may make this step of addiction recovery a little easier for the addict.
Progress in therapy can feel as though it is moving slowly at times. Family therapy may be riddled with arguments and tears. Addiction recovery is a long and often painful road. Family members often feel like the relationships are beyond the point of repair. However, taking the first few tentative steps toward recovery could be all you need to begin restoring broken relationships.
Restoring Broken Relationships
Making an effort to recover from an addiction requires serious effort and commitment. It can take years to feel like you have put a drug or alcohol problem behind you for good. Even then, maintenance can feel like a struggle on a hard day. Being able to call on loved ones for help can be an extremely beneficial tool to have available to addicts during these times. Fortunately, there are many different things that can be done to mend these broken relationships.
Taking the first steps toward addiction recovery can also lay the groundwork for healing fractured families. When an addict takes the first steps toward professional help, family members may be more inclined to attempt to make amends and move past the hurt. If you aren’t sure where to start, be sure to enlist the help of an experienced and qualified professional counselor to help guide the conversation.
If you or people you love are impacted by addiction and your family is fracturing as a result, know that you have options for help. Contact The Hills in order to find out how we can help you and your family!