Successful completion of addiction treatment is no small feat, and this monumental step towards a lifetime of recovery certainly deserves recognition. Recovery doesn’t end after a rehab, however. For people who have experienced addiction, a treatment plan should include therapy, too. But often the family member has a belief that the work was done by the addict, and now everything will be “fine”. For many people, the FAMILY MEMBERS treatment has also just begun. Here are some reasons why therapy may be indicted for the family member.
1. Understand Your loved one
There is no one reason why someone becomes addicted, but many elements can drive addiction, including hereditary and environmental factors. Lifestyle issues, past trauma, work or relationship stress can all be potential reasons why returning to using may be attractive. A closer look at these factors can help to establish a holistic view of addiction, which may enable healing and forgiveness. Family members need to understand that they may never truly understand their addict, but can work on gaining understanding as a way of connecting to them, and working on themselves.
2. Identify and Manage Triggers
Even after rehab, an individual is at risk for relapse, especially when exposed to certain triggers. Stress at work or at home, certain environmental cues, and social situations may all trigger the urge to use. The person in recovery, while being the one responsible for identifying these triggers, can use some help from the family in minimizing them. Even after their body is no longer hooked, these psychological and social factors can prompt a strong desire to go back to bad behaviors. Many family members have an attitude of “But I'm not the one with the problem, why do I have to do anything differently?” You don't have to. But if you do, your life may be a lot easier-it's up to you. Do you want to be righteous or happy?
3. Find Beneficial Therapeutic Outlets
Exposure to an addict over a long period of time can take it's toll on the family member emotionally. The family of the recovering person needs recovering also. A therapist can help offer choices to help you when you feel the stress and confusion of the addict returning from treatment. For example, you may try meditation or another therapeutic outlet that helps you handle challenging feelings, overcome problematic behaviors, or process thoughts.
4. Establish Accountability
One of the simplest ways therapy can benefit an individual in recovery is helping them stay accountable. Many times a family member can return to previously bad behavior even after the loved one has stopped drinking. If a family member knows they need to attend their appointment each week, they may be less likely to relapse on old, non-working behavior because another person is invested in their well being and happiness.
Al-Anon is a 12-step program invented by the wife of the founder of AA, Lois Wilson. Al-Anon is a 12 step program for the family members of addicts and alcoholics to use the 12 steps THEMSELVES to recover from the effects of the addict in their life. Al-Anon is about you, not your addict.
5. Develop a Healthy Lifestyle
Finally, therapy may also help to overcome some of the challenging feelings that come with early sobriety of your loved one, such as boredom, helplessness, or loneliness. A therapist could help you rebuild a life that’s fulfilling mentally, socially, and physically, by encouraging you to explore interests and hobbies.
If you or a loved one has recently completed a rehab program, allow Chuck Beardsley LCSW, from Mountainside Counseling Center in New Jersey, to help. This experienced counselor uses methods such as AST, Gestalt, and mindfulness and meditation techniques to help recovering people establish and maintain a structure for recovery. To schedule an appointment, call (908) 274-3189.