10 TIPS for Family Recovery
Recovery from chemical dependency for the family involves becoming educated about the disease, adjusting to the sobriety of the chemically dependent member, overcoming the negative effects of chemical dependency, and developing new, healthy behaviors to replace old ones that ultimately caused pain (such as enabling).
Family recovery is a gradual process. There are no shortcuts, easy answers, or magic cures. It takes commitment, a willingness to work hard, and openness to let others help you.
The following is a review of some useful recovery tips. Employ any or all of them to help your family.
1. Help yourself before you try to help others. Once you take care of your own needs, you will be in a better position to help others in your family. Take care of yourself by making your personal recovery a priority, committing to attend an appropriate “twelve-step” meeting on a regular basis, and by seeking professional counseling. Taking care of your self also means giving proper attention to your physical health.
2. Talk with others and share your feelings, conflicts, problems, and concerns. This will provide relief and prevent you from stuffing your feelings and letting them build-up. Anger, resentment, bitterness, guilt, shame, and other hurt feelings can be worked out more easily if you share them with another person, especially if they are recovering from family chemical dependency issues.
3. Improve your attitudes and thinking patterns. Since these affect your emotions and the way you act, try to identify negative thought patterns. Once you do, you can practice changing these to thoughts that are more positive. It is not easy to change how you think, just keep trying. You will be glad you did.
4. Change your behaviors. Once you identify behaviors that you need to change, try your best to change them. Ask for help if you are having trouble identifying unhealthy behaviors or if you are struggling to find replacement behaviors.
5. Involve others in your family in recovery when possible. This helps them heal from the emotional wounds one experiences being a member of a chemically dependent family. In addition, it helps them to support the chemically dependent family member’s recovery.
6. Be active with friends and social activities. Do not isolate yourself from others. If you have given up friendships or fun activities because of family chemical dependency problems, make an effort to regain these or work at developing new friendships or leisure interests.
7. Read recovery literature to improve your understanding of chemical dependency problems and recovery. There are many books in publication that will aid your recovery.
8. Use your religious beliefs or “Higher Power” to find strength. A benefit of involvement in recovery is a growth in spirituality and love. Explore your spirituality will help with many recovery ideas. It is also beneficial to every other aspect of your life
9. Support the efforts of your chemically dependent family member to recover. Encourage him or her to keep recovery their first priority. Give them space to recover and support the time he or she needs to spend away from you or the family.
10. Credit yourself for all efforts and improvements you make. When you work hard at your recovery, give yourself a pat on the back. When you make positive changes, however small, acknowledge them.
(This article is a summary of an article appearing on the internet at vanostinstitute.org)
Jon Daily, LCSW, CADC II