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Grieving Your AddictionApril 11, 2017
You’ve worked hard as the family member or loved one of somebody struggling with addiction to get them into treatment. Now that they are there, the real work begins. Each day you will be presented with a new challenge in how to support your loved one.
- Talk To Them. Most often, family members and loved ones feel like they don’t know how to approach or even start a conversation with someone who is in treatment for an addiction and any secondary co-occurring mental health disorder. Addiction is not a terminal disease. With treatment, support, and encouragement, addiction can be put into remission for a lifetime. Open a conversation with simple questions about how they are doing, what they are learning, and what their experience is like. Be prepared, some of what they have to say is going to be intense. Each day, your loved one is working with clinical therapists to develop an emotional vocabulary and a greater understanding of themselves. What they’re learning is more than their multiplication tables they learned in grade school. Open your heart and your mind, remembering that everything they learn in treatment is designed to help them save their life.
- Check Yourself Before You Respond. Unless you’ve lived with the obsessive phenomena of cravings for harmful drugs and alcohol or the crippling weight of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, you couldn’t understand what they’re going through. Everyone has experienced some kind of something in their life. Remember that your experience is different from theirs. Before making any kind of remark, check yourself and see if it sounds damaging or offensive. You want to be a source of support rather than criticism.
- Practice Active Listening. There are going to be hard days full of tears, complaints, and begging to come home. There are going to be angry days full of yelling, blaming, and harsh words. There are going to be joyful days full of gratitude, connection, love, and thanks. Addiction treatment is a roller coaster of emotions. Your loved one is not only processing their emotions for the first time in years, but they are also processing harmful toxins out of their body. Sometimes, the best you can do is just listen. Active listening is a therapeutic as well as spiritual practice. Instead of listening for what you want to hear, listen to what they’re saying. Let them know what you’ve heard and ask them if you understood them. While you don’t want to enable negative emotions, you want to encourage their honest expression. Hear them out, tell them you love them. Remind them they’re doing a great job.
Family bonds can be damaged and broken after many relapses. There is always an opportunity for healing. Sound Recovery Solutions emphasizes the family healing process. We offer family therapy and family weekends full of intensive programming. For information on our treatment programs for men and women, call 561-666-7427 today.