Watching a loved one struggle with addiction is an emotional challenge unlike any other. You will deal with times of frustration, confusion and helplessness; you may feel heartbroken, angry and guilty; you may worry about your loved one and feel pushed away. The list goes on. If you’re in this situation, it will come as no surprise to you that addiction experts consider substance abuse a family disease — a condition that is knitted into the fabric of generations of family relationships. Addiction adversely affects existing family bonds as well as growing relationships and those yet to exist. It shapes the way family members interact with each other, and the way the next generation will grow up and live their lives.
As a family member, though, you do not need to sit by and watch this happen. Too many people have the misconception that when a loved one is suffering from addiction, they are the person who needs to change their ways to fix broken family dynamics. The truth of the matter is that everyone involved has something they need to work on individually — everyone takes part in recovering from addiction, whether it is learning to provide constructive support or dealing with your own emotional struggles.
Read More: When Addiction Runs In The Family
At Enlightened Solutions, we want to involve family members and important loved ones in the healing process. We provide family therapy and counseling services to help our clients’ loved ones rebuild a healthy family unit — one that has the ability and understanding necessary to support the individual in recovery through their life of sobriety, and is ready to repair the relationships damaged by addiction. We also work to protect family members from further harm by talking about strong, appropriate boundaries and clear, effective communication.
Enlightened Solution’s family program is offered alongside our addiction treatment services in the Atlantic City, New Jersey area. If your loved one needs help with addiction, we can not only help them detox their body and mind from substances, but also teach them to interact with others while exploring the reasons behind their feelings and behaviors. If your loved one is seeking treatment with us, please contact us to learn more about how we can guide your family through the recovery process. We are here to help.
About Our Family Program
Upon admission into our programs, we assess each client’s situation and determine which services they will need during their treatment. The family program is frequently recommended, since most of our clients have family members or loved ones who are involved in their daily life — whether they are spouses, parents, siblings, housemates or otherwise. If deemed appropriate, family programming will be integrated into the client’s treatment plan.
The family program consists of regularly scheduled family therapy and counseling sessions, which include educational sessions, individual therapy and group therapy guided by our staff counselors. Some sessions will be geared toward family members alone, and some will encourage interaction between the individual in addiction treatment and the loved ones participating in the family program. Family therapy and counseling sessions will be provided throughout the client’s time in our program, which can range from several weeks to several months. We will work with you to determine a schedule that will not interrupt your daily life, though we do ask families to be willing to carve out time to help their loved one in recovery.
Below is a full outline of what our family program offers our clients and their loved ones:
Weekly family visitation on Saturdays from 11:45 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Visiting with family members provides our clients a connection to the outside world and helps family members see first-hand the progress that their loved one is making in treatment. We want these visitation hours to be positive and productive, so we do work closely with clients and family members beforehand. We ensure that clients are comfortable seeing their visitors and that family members are aware of what to expect before they arrive. To qualify for visitation, family members require preapproval by the client’s clinical team and must participate in weekly family psychoeducation sessions.
- 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. as a group
- Visit from 1 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
- Loved one must be approved clinically for visitation
- In order to visit with a patient, you must sit through a 1-hour psychoeducational family support group which discusses:
- Overview of the program
- A weekly update of what’s happened clinically in the last week
- Learn about Enlightened Recovery
- Learn about holistic services
- Q&A from a trained clinician
- Support from other families
- Opportunity to learn how to meet your loved one where they’re at and support them here and now
Opportunity for family sessions while your loved one is engaged in treatment
Family therapy sessions form a key component of our family therapy program. These sessions are led by a member of our clinical team and help family members work through the ways in which their loved one’s addiction has affected them. Family therapy may involve discussions of how family dynamics have shifted since substance abuse began or psychoeducation about addiction and addiction treatment, or may be a space where family members can share their own thoughts and worries as recovery progresses.
- Process sensitive unresolved family dynamics
- Gain insight into the disease of addiction
- In a setting with a primary therapist
Weekly telecommunication with the primary therapist
Each client at Enlightened Solutions works closely with one primary therapist, who also serves as the family’s point of contact about their loved one’s progress. The therapist keeps close track of the client’s progress and provides weekly reports to designated family members. While participation in our in-person family programming is exceptionally beneficial, we understand that not everyone can travel or take the time to attend every session. These weekly check-ins ensure that family members can still stay updated on and included in the recovery process even when they cannot visit face to face.
- Initial touchpoint with the family occurs the day their loved one arrives with an intake coordinator
- Within the week, a primary therapist introduces themselves and provides contact information and an overview of what to expect
- Weekly contact for updates
Active engagement with family members during and after treatment
Family is a huge part of treatment and we are proud to serve as a resource for family members both during their loved one’s treatment and after their loved one enters lifelong recovery. Our doors are always open to our alumni and their families — as a community-oriented recovery center, we welcome participation in our ongoing programs for alumni, their families and community members. These services help our clients’ families maintain a support network of their own and stay engaged in their loved one’s recovery process for life.
- Monthly alumni activities
- Support group meetings
- Yoga and meditation classes
- Open mic nights
The topics discussed and covered in our family program can include:
Understanding addiction and mental health conditions
It’s essential that everyone involved is aware that addiction and co-occurring disorders are not a choice or anyone’s fault. They are diagnosable mental health concerns that require treatment and management, just like a chronic physical illness.
Defining healthy boundaries with family members and understanding enabling
Family members often mean well and want to keep their loved one safe, but they may end up enabling an addiction by giving their loved one a place to stay or lending them money. It’s essential to set appropriate boundaries so that the affected individual can learn to be independent.
Defining roles in a family
Too often we see one or two family members who take on the burden of caring for or keeping track of an addicted loved one. This can be overwhelming and may result in guilt and blame. By setting clear roles, families can set reasonable responsibilities and share them appropriately.
How to work with someone in recovery
Addiction breaks trust and confidence in an addicted individual’s abilities may be very low. It’s important to find a balance between being patient as they acclimate to daily life and showing them that you believe they can perform the duties expected of them.
How to respect and care for themselves
Family members may sacrifice their own well-being to keep their loved one out of trouble, but this only serves to worsen the situation over time. Everyone involved must be able to know their own limits and recognize when it is healthier to put themselves first.
Understanding individual needs and the needs of the family unit
While we advocate for self-care and self-awareness, it’s also important to be willing to put your family’s needs over your wants. For addicted individuals, instilling this idea is vital to helping them stay sober. For family members, these topics can help restore a sense of solidarity.
Dealing with codependency
Codependent relationships are incredibly common in the face of addiction. Loved ones may unquestionably provide support for their addicted family member because they hope that their affection or assistance will convince them to stop using drugs or alcohol. This unhealthy behavior pattern always needs to be addressed and worked through before recovery long-term can be successful.
How to stick to the rules of sobriety
Both the affected individual and their loved ones must create and adhere to rules after recovery. This helps establish clear lines between what is and is not appropriate on both sides and provides structure to future family dynamics.
Understanding the Disease of Addiction
Family members often forget themselves when their loved one struggles with addiction. They forget about what they need in life to be happy as an individual and learn to close themselves off from joy. These family members are consumed by embarrassment, anger, fear, and worry without the ability to process these emotions in a healthy way. They learn to take on responsibilities that are not their own, and leave their feelings unexpressed or express them at inappropriate times.
We teach family members to recognize that they are people with needs and lives of their own and that they need to remember to take care of themselves. Addiction takes over the individual experiencing it, and it’s a compulsive mental condition that has to be worked on as a holistic engagement of the mind, body, and spirit. Only the person in treatment can make the final decision to succeed in recovery or to continue abusing substances. Educating our client’s families on the specifics of their loved one’s addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions will help them understand what they go through each day, and what the future may look like. Once an addict has agreed to work on their addiction, we can educate family members about the phases of treatment for substance abuse, and what things the family can focus on at home to create a positive and supportive environment.