Addiction doesn’t just change the addict; it alters every relationship they have. The cycle of secrecy and shame, the inability to care for their family properly, and all of the things that are involved in a life ruled by addiction have a profound effect on the people who love them.

The disease of addiction creates complex physical, emotional, social and often legal consequences for the individual seeking addiction treatment. This set of consequences can also affect family members, friends and anyone who is close to the addict. Loved ones may have the best of intentions and may do their best to help the addict, but over time, family involvement often becomes enabling rather than beneficial. Loved ones may frequently offer to serve as a designated driver, shield an addict from legal consequences or help support the household when financial difficulties set in. Although these behaviors are well-meaning and protect an addict’s safety, they also allow the addict to continue with their self-destructive behavior.

As addiction progresses, the individual typically becomes more and more manipulative and self-centered, focusing almost exclusively on feeding their addiction. This behavior rightfully invokes a strong response from the loved ones of the addict, who often feel hurt and traumatized. They may blame themselves for the addict’s failures to break their habit, or feel deeply saddened by the fact that they could not help. Family members may become resentful and mistrustful toward the addict as their behavior worsens or starts to cause noticeable harm to other loved ones. The psychological damage to those whose loved one struggles with addiction can be extensive, but too often goes ignored as the addict is traditionally the only one who receives treatment.

At Oceanfront Recovery, we offer a specialized family program to help families overcome these hurdles and burdens. Our program helps family members and other loved ones learn ways to support without enabling, so that when an individual in recovery returns home, the family has healthy boundaries and rules in place. We also provide an opportunity for loved ones’ healing to begin by giving them a dedicated space to talk about how addiction has affected them as well as the addict. Our family program includes those close to an addict in the recovery process, bringing an individual’s network of loved ones closer together in a way that allows everyone to support one another through recovery and beyond.

Healing as Family at Oceanfront Recovery

At Oceanfront Recovery, we offer programs to educate and support the family and friends who have been impacted by addiction. During the recovery process for the addict, they learn about the root cause of their addictions, and how to deal with those and modify their addictive behaviors so that they don’t fall back into the habits that landed them here.

The same is true for families – dealing with an addict can impact loved ones just as much as the actual addiction, albeit in different ways. They harbor guilt and shame and fear and a myriad of other emotions that have to be explored, so they can be able to support the addict without losing themselves in the process. In order for healing to be complete, it is vital that the families learn how they got where they are, and how to move towards being a healthy part of a strong family in recovery. Some of the topics we talk about include:

  • What they can control in the situation, and what they cannot
  • That they are not responsible for their loved one’s addiction, and that they need to let go of that burden
  • How to refocus energy and care back into themselves and other important relationships
  • Learning how to support without enabling
  • Improving their own quality of life and their relationships
  • Understanding the disease itself

Each of these is a skill that family members need to develop and put into daily practice in order to escape the grasp that addiction has on them, and to help their loved one remain in recovery in the future.

Another important aspect of a successful recovery is for families to learn and accept how addiction has changed their lives and how to rebuild their family unit in a way that can support the new coping techniques of the addict. The goal is to create an environment where everyone can feel safe and begin to trust each other once again.

Addiction is a disease that impacts the entire family system. While it is important for family members to learn about the disease and how to best support the person in recovery, it is equally important that those family members receive tools and support to help them in their own recovery process. They too have experienced emotional trauma, and have a difficult path back to a sense of security and normalcy in their relationships.

Family Weekend

Family involvement helps families step back and recognize negative behavior patterns and relationship dynamics, both in themselves and in the addict. We have found that the support a family provides to a patient recovering from addiction is essential to that patient’s success, which is why Oceanfront Recovery offers a Family Weekend on a regular basis.

We view family as a crucial component of a patient’s ongoing recovery, and strive to involve family members in the addiction treatment and recovery process as much as possible, which is why these weekends are an important part of our Family Program. Since every family is different, and the process of family involvement in addiction therapy will differ for every person, Family Weekend provides a safe space for healing to begin, starting the process of family reintegration. Parents, siblings, spouses, children and other concerned loved ones are encouraged to participate.