At The River Source, we spend a lot of time talking to the families of our clients, as addiction is never limited to the addict alone. Most families come to us in despair. They’re not sure where to turn or how to help their loved one. While recovering from addiction is not easy, there are things you can do to make the process less stressful for the addict, yourself and your family at large.
Geffen Liberman, a counselor, coach and educator at The River Source, works closely with both addicts and their families to offer professional advice and support. Through the right networks, families can find the strength and hope they need to get through these difficult months. Here are some of the tools that Mr. Liberman recommends to families.
Get educated on the nature of addiction and recovery.
This is perhaps the single most important thing that families can do. Not just immediate family, but extended friends and family as well. Understanding the nature of addiction helps people to recognize what their loved one is going through and how they can be a positive influence on their recovery. Too often, people view addiction as a weakness or character flaw, but this attitude won’t help the addict in their journey to sobriety.
You can find education through attending family support groups, reading online material or visiting the library for traditional literature on addiction. One good read that Mr. Liberman recommends is Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as the Big Book. Borrow the book from the library, or order your own digital or print copy. The book offers valuable information about recovery and is meant to be inspiring for both addicts and their families.
Families today have more ways to be connected and get informed, which is a positive thing. The River Source, for instance, has both a Facebook and Twitter page where families can read updated blog posts, testimonials and words of inspiration. We share helpful tips for dealing with addiction over the changing seasons, and we remind addicts of upcoming meetings.
Attend community-based support groups.
Families can find support groups in their local area by visiting sites like Al-Anon.org or Nar-Anon.org. The PAL Group is another major support network for families in Arizona and Indiana. Attending groups in person is recommended, as this type of face-to-face interaction is most beneficial. But, for families who may not be in a position to attend support groups in person each week, they are also offered in electronic formats.
Support groups are an opportunity to listen, learn and feel understood. The environment is supportive and nonjudgmental. For once, families don’t have to feel secretive or closed off from the world. They can listen to other families’ struggles and share their own, if they choose. Since these types of community-based groups are autonomously run, it’s a good idea to try out several of them to find a group that resonates with you.
Go along with your loved one to their support groups.
Addicts should attend their own support groups when they leave treatment, as this is an important part of long-term recovery. Attending these groups can be difficult for some addicts, as they may not be ready to be open and honest with others.
A good way for families to encourage their loved one to attend these free support groups is by going along with them. They can hear from other addicts and get a better understanding for what addiction does to a person. It’s also a good opportunity for family members to reconnect with their loved one and show their support for lifelong sobriety.
There’s more that families can do to help their loved one through early recovery, such as providing them with a stable, sober environment, encouraging healthy eating and lifestyle habits and having firm expectations. It’s common for families to be too easy on recovering addicts, but a bit of structure is critical to getting addicts back on their feet. For more information on what you can do to help your loved one, check out the above video from Geffen Liberman or call The River Source at 1-866-770-1236.