Addiction is a Family Disease
When it comes to addiction, it is often said that addiction is a family disease. However, it is all too common that we find families who do not believe in or understand this concept. It is absolutely essential that families are involved in the process of recovery for their loved one.
Sometimes when a loved one is in active addiction, family members do not know what to do or how to help. This could mean accidentally enabling the loved one by giving them money or resources to keep their addiction going in order to appease them. Sometimes, family members (especially parents) feel that as long as this person is under their roof, they can be looked after and are safe. However, this behavior can do more hard than good. When families do not know what to do or how to help their loved one, they can end up hurting them accidentally. That is where the educational side of their loved one’s care comes into play, making it vital for families to be part of the process.
When a patient enters Pinelands, the family is invited to participate in a weekly support group and education class weekly prior to visitation on the weekend. This gives them some of the tools they need to be able to handle their loved ones care when seeing them in person and learning about their treatment. Pinelands also offers a Wellness Coordinator, who reaches out to family for specialized support and can answer questions about anything the family might need. This can include addiction itself, the recovery process, treatment, aftercare planning and other generalized information.
Every client is assigned a primary therapist, who also reaches out to family to discuss how the client is progressing. They will alert the family if there are any issues arising, and also to schedule family sessions when they have stabilized and are ready to dive into some of that work.
You are not alone
It is very common for family members to be hurt by their loved one’s addiction. Addiction can blow through the family dynamic like a tornado, and the family is left to pick up the pieces when their loved one enters treatment. This can leave resentment, hurt and anger for the family members who are not able to “escape”. It can also leave family members feeling very alone if they do not have someone to relate to. It is important to educate family members that what they are feeling is, actually, completely normal. Being able to process their own thoughts and emotions about their loved one’s addiction will help mend these broken relationships. Being part of the family support group offered at Pinelands will allow families access to 20+ other families who feel the same way.
Families who are able to talk to therapists to hear that their loved one is doing better and engaging in treatment can help comfort fears that contribute to their anger. Families can become traumatized by the actions of their loved one’s addiction, especially when they are acting completely out of character. This can include roaming unsafe streets trying to find their loved one, or doing other things that cause them to scare themselves. They do not need addiction to run their lives anymore, but sometimes they’re not sure how to let it.
When letting go of allowing a loved one’s addiction to control their loves, people need to take care of themselves. Some of them need permission to do it. When a loved one is in treatment, it can often be the first time family members are able to sleep through the night knowing their loved one is safe. Simple things like this can be comforting, and help begin the healing process for families.
Family Life After Treatment
If your loved one is entering treatment, it can be a very exciting, scary and emotional time. Knowing they are in a safe place and bettering themselves can be very comforting, but what happens next?
When a client is going through treatment, the use of a family session is extremely important. This can be done on the phone or in person, depending on convenience. Sometimes family members do not want their loved one to return home after treatment because they may have been down this road several times with them already. Or perhaps, there was so much damage done during the active addiction that the trust has been severely broken. It is important to set firm boundaries, and to know the value of them. Going about setting firm boundaries can be scary, but with a family session it will help all parties recognize and agree on anything that could be presented.
The client in treatment needs to know the family’s expectations for them, and a therapist is an essential part of that. The therapist will be communicating with the family and sharing recommendations for aftercare and planning. The family can share concerns and experiences with the therapist of what has helped or not helped in the past. A plan needs to be put in place, which can include anything from setting a curfew, obtaining a job within a certain period of time or attending outpatient counseling sessions a certain number of times a week or day. This will help establish the best discharge plan that can be made for the client to ensure long-term sobriety.
The recovery of a loved one’s addiction has to be a team effort. Everyone must remain a united front. This is essential not only to make the person in recovery feel loved and supported, but also for the family to protect themselves. If there is any clashing ideas as to a loved one’s aftercare, the loved one can see this as an opportunity to manipulate the situation, triangulate people and eventually return back to their old habits.
About Pinelands Recovery Center
Families can often become as hopeless as the person with substance use disorder. Family members do recover, and to be part of that process can be really emotionally taxing. It can be a beautiful thing to watch and be a part, of as well. Keeping a family member’s addiction a secret can further reinforce the stigma, so making sure you are an active part of the process with as much support behind you as possible is something we pride ourselves on.
Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and a 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.
We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to
monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery
plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and
demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of
behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy
We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and
healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery
model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit