The ways in which addiction impacts families are numerous. If you have been struggling because someone you love is battling the disease of addiction, you need help. The addict is not the only one affected by addiction and is not the only person who needs support to heal.
You may need to attend therapy on a one-on-one basis. You might consider attending sessions with the addict you love. But you should also consider joining a support group. The mutual support of other people who have been through the same struggle can be a powerful tool to help you heal.
How Addiction Impacts Everyone
When someone is battling addiction, he tends to think only of himself. True, he is going through an epic battle that could take his life, but the addict is not the only one to suffer. Addiction is a disease of the whole family. It causes stress and tension in the home and affects the stability of the family unit as well as the well-being—physical, mental and emotional—of each individual in it. It doesn’t matter if the addict is a child or a parent: everyone suffers.
Coping With An Addict In The Family
Experts agree that there are certain steps you should take if you have an addict in your family. First you need to educate yourself. Learn about addiction, what it is, what it means for the addict, and what it means for you. Education is power and is needed if you are to cope with this issue. Resist the urge to enable the addict in your life.
This seems obvious, but enabling can be subtle and you may not even realize you do it. Financial support, making excuses, taking over responsibilities are all ways in which you enable the disease of addiction. Finally, it is crucial that you help yourself through this process and a big part of that is getting support.
Joining A Support Group
You care about the addict in your life and you want to help him, but you can only do so much and you have to take care of yourself as well. Don’t deny or belittle the negative impact that addiction is having on your life. Acknowledge it and ask for support. Loving an addict can mean emotional, mental and physical distress. You can’t bear this alone, which is why support groups have been meeting for decades to help people like you.
Support groups for families of addicts are available nearly everywhere. If you live somewhere remote or have no transportation, you can at least find an online group to join. The benefits of joining one of these groups are huge. Simply being there to listen to the stories of others has a big psychological impact. Knowing that you are not alone in your struggles and that other people understand you will be a great comfort.
Be sure to attend sessions regularly to get the most benefit. It is also important to participate. If you are uncomfortable sharing at first, take your time. Go to a few sessions and just listen. The other members will understand that you don’t want to share right away. As you get to know how the group works and become familiar with the members, you will start to feel more comfortable. Push yourself to share. Talking about your own struggles will help both you and others. When you open up you begin to heal and when you begin to heal you will be better able to help the addict you love.
You And Your Addicted Loved One Are Worth It – Call Us Now For Recovery Help
Support group membership can be an important part of your recovery from addiction. Experts agree that there are several important elements to effective treatment for addiction. One of those elements must address the social needs of the addict. You can and should go through individual counseling and other types of treatment, but you also need social support. A support group is a great way to get that aspect of treatment.
Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Support Group
When you join a support group, make sure you make the most of the experience.
1. Finding A Support Group
The first important step in having a positive support group experience is finding the right one for you. Don’t be afraid to try a few meetings with different groups to choose the one you like best. There is no rule that says you have to commit to a group after attending just one meeting. Contact community centers, religious organizations, your local library and the local newspaper to find available support groups. You can also speak to your doctor or search online for available groups.
2. Participating In A Support Group
Once you have found a group you like and in which you feel comfortable, start attending meetings regularly. You won’t get much support if you only go to meetings sporadically. You need to develop a rapport with your fellow members, get to know them and let them get to know you, even if it is anonymous. Participating is important too. It’s ok to just listen at first. You may not feel comfortable speaking up right away, but push yourself to start participating after a few meetings. You will get the most benefit from your group when you start to talk and share.
3. Be Honest And Open
An important reason for anonymity in support groups is that it helps everyone to feel better about opening up and sharing. You will get the most out of your experience if you don’t hold back. When it’s time to tell your story, be open, tell the truth and share as much about your experience as you can. Speaking out loud about what you have been through is a powerful tool for healing. The experience of being supported and comforted by those around you is restorative.
4. Work With A Sponsor
Support groups offer more than just a crowd to hear your stories and to which you can listen. They also offer the possibility of developing a meaningful relationship with a sponsor. Working with someone who has been in your position and who has more sober years than you is a wonderful tool for your own sobriety. This relationship can be long term and can be something you turn to in your times of need.
5. Get Involved
A support group is also a great way to get involved in something positive. Replacing your old, bad habits with new activities that have a positive impact on your life is an important step toward long-term sobriety. Get involved in organizing meetings and other events. Volunteer your time and talents to making the group more successful. When you’re ready, volunteer to be a sponsor and help someone else who desperately needs it.
Support groups are powerful instruments for lasting change, but only when you immerse yourself in the experience. Sporadic attendance and weak participation will only take you so far. To really get the most out of a support group you need to attend regularly, get involved, work with a sponsor and open up to your fellow members while also listening to their stories.
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