Building a Healthy Family Support System

Family is a word that is typically associated with love, support, and guidance. Although, not all family systems are the same. Having a family member who struggles with substance use disorder (SUD) can create an unstable family system.

When a loved one is struggling, it can create feelings of uncertainty, anger, guilt, or shame. Yet, there is hope. Your loved one can find personal recovery from their addiction, and the family can heal. 

Addiction Affects the Entire Family

While you may think addiction only affects the individual using drugs or alcohol, addiction affects the entire family. When a family member struggles with SUD, it can create strained relationships, financial difficulties, and an increased risk of abuse. Not every family will experience the same effects to the same extent, but every family will be impacted.

Helping Your Loved One

It can be challenging to know how to help your loved one when they are struggling. When a loved one is affected by SUD, it can bring up confusing feelings. You may be desperate to do anything to help your loved one. Your loved one can only find recovery when they are willing. During this process, there are many things you can do to help support your loved one, including:

  • Educating yourself on addiction
  • Maintaining a commitment to loving them and encouraging them
  • Be honest yet compassionate about your feelings and concerns
  • Maintaining healthy boundaries
  • Avoiding blame or accusing your loved one of doing something wrong
  • Researching treatment facilities and calling to discuss treatment options

When Your Loved One Doesn’t Want to Seek Help

No matter how much love and compassion you have for a loved one, they may refuse to seek help. When this happens, you may feel frustrated and unsure of how to proceed. Even if a loved one is unwilling to seek help, you can still support them and heal the family system.

Create Boundaries and Follow Through

Setting boundaries with a loved one struggling with addiction is essential for family healing. When your loved one is struggling, they can cause harm, even if they do not intend to. Setting boundaries allows you and your family to heal, and lets your loved one know you are serious about them seeking help.

For example, you may set a boundary with your loved one that they cannot continue to live with you if they use drugs or alcohol. This boundary only holds meaning if you follow through. If this is a boundary you choose to set with a loved one, it allows for family healing for members within the home and may encourage your loved one to be willing to seek treatment.

Learn the Difference Between Enabling and Supporting

Many families confuse enabling with supporting their loved one. For example, while you may think financially helping a loved one is supporting them until they are willing to find help, it only enables their addiction.

Recognizing enabling behavior and stopping it can significantly help you, your family, and your loved one who is struggling. When you do not enable a loved one’s addiction, they can begin to see the consequences of their actions. You also make it more challenging for your loved one to continue their addiction.

Consider an Intervention

You may consider an intervention when a loved one is struggling with SUD and is unwilling to seek help. An intervention specialist can help you determine the best type of intervention approach for you and your family. They can also help you assess the situation and plan everything that is needed for an intervention. Sometimes, an intervention is what is needed to push your loved one towards change.

Finding Help for Yourself

Whether or not your loved one is ready for treatment, you and your family can still find healing. Finding help for yourself can help you sort through the confusing feelings of having a loved one with SUD. When you do not seek help for yourself and your family, you cannot fully support your loved one. As the old saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” 

There are many ways you can find help for yourself and your family, including:

  • One-on-one therapy
  • Support groups such as Nar-Anon or Al-Anon
  • Family therapy

Recovery Involves Change 

According to The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, one of the most important rules in recovery is for the individual struggling to change their life. “Recovery involves creating a new life in which it is easier to not use. When individuals do not change their lives, then all the factors that contributed to their addiction will eventually catch up with them.”

Change does not just apply to your loved one. As your loved one recovers from SUD, you and your family can recover, too. When everyone is involved in the recovery process, you can build a healthy family support system.

You are not alone. There is professional help available to help you and your family acknowledge their flaws while providing the resources needed to heal. Although some of these changes can appear small, they can significantly improve your loved one’s chances of recovery and provide you and your family with a better quality of life. 

Having a loved one who struggles with substance use disorder (SUD) can be challenging. You may have many feelings, including anger, resentment, fear, and guilt. As much as you may want to help your loved one, you also need to help yourself and your family. When the family system becomes strong, you can best support your loved one in their recovery. At A New Hope Recovery Services, our goal is to help the entire family heal. We can help your loved one find recovery from SUD through our intervention, case management, and counseling services. Even if an intervention has not taken place, we can help your family find healing through our family therapy services. For more information on how we can help you and your family build a healthy support system, call A New Hope Recovery Services at (407) 501-8490.