I have found numerous ways in which families attempt to face the reality of substance use. A common response for many is denial and minimization. Often the family members minimize the addiction of their loved one. While aware of the signs, they struggle with acknowledging the depth of the problem. During the active stage of addiction, the family members may believe it would be easier to ignore the behaviors than to confront their family member with a substance use disorder.
It is very stressful to confront a family member who is using prescription medications, alcohol, or other substances. This stress is further compounded by the lack of training to deal with that family member. It is easier to minimize or deny the signs, explaining the behavior away, or categorizing as manageable. Because of this, family recovery is necessary. And family recovery includes, significant others, children, friends, etc.
In Family Recovery, the Game of Justifying is not Played…
As families often deny the seriousness of the problem, they are actually joining with their loved one in the game of justifying or measuring the level of addiction. They say, Oh, they are not that bad. Or, They would never use... Denial and minimization for many families is a common first response.
In the early stages of the recovery process the person suffering from addiction may still be very fragile. Especially as they begin this new journey to sobriety. In addition, the family members will need time to process the steps of forgiving and trusting their loved one again. The family members are in recovery too.
At Sanford we want to work with the family system. We view family recovery as an essential component in a client’s ongoing recovery from addiction and substance use. Our goal is to educate entire families about the disease of addiction. In so doing, we help our clients and their loved ones reshape their roles and move forward in recovery, together.