Understand addiction and treatment, and help your loved one make a full recovery.
— Futures of Palm Beach —
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), substance abuse costs more than $740 billion every year in the area of crime, job productivity loss and health care. The cost for families, however, can feel infinitely more devastating. Addiction causes financial, mental, emotional and even physical stress to those surrounding an individual in the thralls of substance abuse. Frustration, resentment, confusion and sadness are but a few emotions family members may experience when a loved one is struggling with an addiction.
If unsure how to best help a family member dealing with addiction, Futures of Palm Beach is here to help individuals and their loved ones. We specialize in providing help for families of addicts. We’ve witnessed firsthand how crucial family support is in all stages of treatment and the long-term recovery process.
How to Understand Addiction as a Family Member
Again, it can be difficult as a family member to know how to help a loved one who is battling an addiction. One of the best beginning steps to take is to become educated about the signs and symptoms of addiction, learning as much as possible.
The following scenarios may indicate that a loved one is developing or has already formed an addiction:
- Excessive Use – A person continues to drink or use drugs with greater frequency, for longer periods of time and in larger quantities.
- Dangerous Situations – Safety is no longer a priority and an individual finds himself/herself in increasingly dangerous situations or engaging in high-risk behavior.
- Isolation – An individual withdraws from family & friends and discontinues activities he/she used to enjoy.
- Neglects Responsibility – Jobs, family and financial commitments, and responsibilities are neglected or discontinued.
- Secrecy – A person avoids people, places and events in addition to physically hiding drugs and/or alcohol.
- Alterations to Physical Appearance – Personal hygiene, wardrobe and overall appearance are not what they usually are.
- High Tolerance – Greater quantities of drugs/alcohol are required for a person to receive a “buzz” or “high”.
- Withdrawal Symptoms – When an individual ceases using a substance, he/she experiences negative physical, mental and emotional consequences including violent hangovers, extreme mood swings, convulsions, hallucinations and more.
- Continued Use – A person continues to use substance(s) despite negative physical, emotional and mental consequences, including DUI’s, DWI’s, loss of employment, family and friends.
How Addiction Treatment Works
Another aspect of addiction that Futures recommends as part of treatment support for loved ones is the familiarization of addiction treatment. By learning how the addiction treatment process works, families can be better prepared for what’s to come and enable them to provide healthy support to a loved one who is struggling.
For example, at Futures we offer help to individuals that not only need to address a substance use disorder, but also those that also face the challenge of a co-occurring disorder (ADD, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression and OCD).
In addition to recognizing that residential treatment is the first step in a lifelong process of recovery, an important aspect of addiction treatment to understand is the application of comprehensive therapeutic care. As an additional aspect of help for families of addicts, Futures offers Family Education that can help family members better understand what a loved one is experiencing. First and foremost, we help families of clients recognize that their loved one’s addiction is not their fault.
Addiction usually involves many layers and creates numerous familial complications. We can help guide clients and their families how to understand this process, help promote healing, and enable family members to support their loved one in the most healthy, productive way possible.
Please call us anytime, including now, to learn more about how we can specifically address needs: 866-351-7588.
How to Encourage Treatment
Seek Outside Help
We can’t express enough how important it is to remember that addiction is not the fault of the family. It is, however, critical for an individual with an addiction to seek outside help, as it is critical for recovery. Although treatment isn’t the only way to address addiction, there are multiple advantages in doing so – especially for families who have had difficulty providing healthy support to their loved one.
Credible and accredited treatment centers that offer professional therapists, medical physicians and other trained experts as well as a full continuum of care can be instrumental in assisting individuals with addiction. Treatment provides a safe, secure and structured environment for clients to receive the help they need from professionals who are equipped to handle the emotional, mental and physical issues associated with addiction and detox.
Avoid Enabling The Problem
Many family members unwittingly encourage their loved one’s addiction, which allows them to continue down a path of self-destruction. Unfortunately, this encouragement is otherwise known as Enabling. This enabling often takes the form of providing financial loans, fixing mistakes that were caused by the substance abuse, shielding the family member from negative consequences, and more. Although family members may feel they are being supportive through these actions, they are allowing the disease of addiction to continue to control the life of their loved one. Rather, families must learn to focus on addressing the actual problem–the addiction itself–, rather than symptoms.
Consider An Intervention
Intervention is one option that can help prevent or disrupt a pattern of enabling. An interventionist utilizes structured conversations in order to break through the denial and encourage loved ones to seek help. Often, these conversations include multiple friends and family members, who point out specific issues and discuss how the addict’s behavior has affected them personally. There are various tried and true techniques for holding an intervention, and it is often most helpful to consult a professional interventionist.
A professional interventionist is skilled and trained in:
- Helping an addict’s family understand how to approach/discuss substance abuse with a loved one in need of help
- Timing an intervention – knowing whether a surprise intervention or telling the person about the intervention ahead of time would be best.
- Planning an appropriate location in which to hold an intervention (home, therapist’s office or other private space)
- Acting as a neutral mediator to help keep intervention conversation from being confrontational, off topic and/or emotionally elevated – such as sticking to “I” statements rather than “you,” or statements that can feel accusatory or attacking
- Educating families about the best addiction treatment centers for the family member should he/she accept help, and what to do should assistance for treatment be denied
- Reviewing techniques in letter writing— guiding family members in appropriate verbiage to use, avoiding confrontational or resentful language
Intervention is never a guarantee that a person with an addiction will accept help for his/her substance abuse issues. According to Joseph A. Califano Jr., former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and the founder of the National Center on Addiction and Substance stated in a TIME magazine interview that 70% to 80% of addicts who enter treatment drop out within 3 to 6 months. If a person denies help following an intervention or during the early stages of treatment, do not give up hope, as this happens often and should not be looked at as a failure, rather a bump in the road to recovery.
Things One Can Do For Himself/Herself As A Family Member
If and when a loved one accepts help for his/her addiction, family members can still feel lost. What comes next? Is there anything family members can do to help? Yes! In fact, research has demonstrated that clients who receive support from family members during treatment have experienced a significantly enhanced recovery process.
Here are some ways to be of support to a loved one during the initial stages of treatment – and to encourage long-term recovery:
- Cultivate a supportive environment at home: avoid name calling, accusations, and judgment. Also avoid drinking and other drug use in the home.
- Take part in researching the best treatment options. Try to find a program that removes all negative influences throughout the entire treatment. Look for a center that is well-respected and has a history of success. Also look for a program that includes after-care planning, which is essential for success.
- Don’t give up. Even if he or she has been to treatment before, it’s important to avoid losing hope of recovery.
Things One Can Do For Themselves While Helping A Person With An Addiction
Throughout the process, it is vital to take care of the mind and body. All too often, time, energy and efforts are constantly expended on the individual with the addiction, while those surrounding him/her can become deprived of necessities like sleep, routine, healthy diet, exercise and personal enjoyment.
Help is available – by the family members accepting help for himself/herself, it shows the loved one with the addiction that no one is above getting help. Being stronger and more capable of offering better support for a loved one when healthy and rested is respectable. Try not to blame anyone for a loved one’s predicament. Addiction is a disease of the mind and body.
Perhaps of utmost importance: set boundaries! Setting appropriate boundaries helps prevent enabling, resentment and misunderstanding. For example:
- If a loved one says no to help and/or treatment, anticipate what consequences should be put in place, whether the loved one will have to move out, or be cut off from financial support.
- Try to make sure family members are on the same page; if it’s agreed that financial support is out of the picture, the individual with addiction won’t get a different answer from Grandma.
Staying positive is important, as is connecting with others who have been in a similar situation. You can do this by joining a support group or community for family members of addicts such as Nar Anon or Al Anon (see full list below). Books and or articles written by loved ones of addicts are available to provide an additional perspective. Some of these include:
- Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change
- So You’re in Love with an Addict
- Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction
- Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself
- Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You: A Guide for Parents of Drug and Alcohol Addicted Children
- Addict in the Family: Stories of Loss, Hope, and Recovery
- Scar Tissue
- Love First: A Family’s Guide to Intervention
- The Enabler: When Helping Hurts the Ones You Love
Additionally, schedule private therapy sessions for yourself. Look for a therapist or psychologist familiar with addiction and how it affects families. And finally, do best to keep expectations in check. Recovery is a lifelong process, one that can come with many ups and downs. You are not responsible for your loved one’s long-term recovery, he/she is.
Things that can be done for the entire family
There are a number of risks for the entire family during addiction and treatment. The combination of an addict’s behavior combined with any number of family dynamics can result in:
- Family disintegration
- Feelings of helplessness or an inability to cope
- Inconsiderate comments from others
- Social isolation
- Financial losses
- Mental health or substance abuse issues in other family members
In any of the scenarios listed above, family counseling can be extremely beneficial. A professional can help family members navigate the complex feelings and situations experienced in their own type of recovery.
What to expect while a loved one is receiving care
Prior to admission families will receive a comprehensive overview of our program along with a schedule of daily therapies and activities. We encourage family members to review the information as a family and ask questions, all while the client’s confidentiality is maintained. Admission counselors are available 7 days a week to answer questions and will send a list of what clients should bring several days before the admission date.
During admissions, family members are always welcome to accompany the client during the admissions process. We will explain the program in greater detail and answer any questions. During the admissions process, family members are welcome to tour our facilities.
During treatment, our residential programs typically last a minimum of 30 days. Ultimately, total length of treatment will vary depending on the severity and longevity of the addiction, as well as overall physiological condition of the client.
Throughout this time, family members receive regular communication and updates from Futures. Clients may use cell phones and laptops at designated times after the initial 10 days of orientation, provided they do not interfere with treatment.
Additionally each Futures’ client and his/her family can participate in the 2-day family intensive program. Studies have shown that the more involved family is, the more effective the treatment will be. So, we encourage participation in family therapy sessions and the treatment process. The time spent together allows individuals and their families to learn to amend destructive family behaviors.
After treatment, most clients rely on family support to help stay on track after returning home from treatment. Family members can provide support by remaining available and understanding, and listening to a loved one’s feelings and thoughts. They can help direct focus/conversation on the positive things in life, and also provide praise for a loved one’s strengths and abilities in areas of life that are unrelated to treatment.
Encourage loved ones to attend support groups and to call his/her sober support when pressure or stress arises. These support groups will help the person in recovery to avoid old habits. It can also be helpful to talk to a loved one about their comfort levels and what can be done to support them. For example, don’t assume that drinking around them will be okay just because alcoholism wasn’t his/her substance of choice.
Ask other family members to help check in when you’re unavailable to do so. Be cognizant of relapse triggers, sometimes call “red flags”. Be on alert regarding emotional events or situations that may drive the recovering loved one back to substance abuse. In these moments, offer extra support and enlist the help of other friends, family, and/or professionals if necessary.
Safety and Security Features at Futures of Palm Beach
When a loved one enters into our treatment center, family members can feel confident that he/she is in an environment that’s safe and secure. At Futures of Palm Beach, the safety and comfort of our clients is a top priority.
We are dedicated to providing all individuals in addiction treatment with a nurturing and attentive environment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including:
- A safe, comfortable and pleasant environment to maintain the physical and emotional wellbeing for all clients
- Personal monitoring and attention, particularly in the sensitive and fragile first hours and days of treatment and detox
- A compassionate and highly skilled staff, with experience in monitoring our community of individuals in recovery
- A fully accredited facility, meeting the high standards for our operations, methods, and safety protocols
If a family or friend of a loved one is struggling with addiction, we are dedicated to finding the help needed. For more help for families of addicts, please reach out to one of the many support groups listed below.
- Learn to Cope: http://www.learn2cope.org/
- Al-Anon family support website: http://www.al-anon.org/
- Nar-anon: http://www.nar-anon.org/
- Gam-anon: http://www.gam-anon.org/
- Parents of Addicted Loved Ones: https://palgroup.org/
- Adult Children of Alcoholics: http://www.gam-anon.org/
- Codependency support group: https://www.dailystrength.org/group/codependency
- Co-Dependents Anonymous International: http://locator.coda.org/
- Dual Recovery Anonymous: http://www.draonline.org/
- Friends and Family of Addicts forum: https://friends-and-family-of-addicts.supportgroups.com/
To learn more about our treatment options at Futures, from inpatient/residential treatment, outpatient and aftercare for addiction, please reach out to us today at 866-351-7588.