Powerful Allies in Recovery – Educating the Family About Addiction

Why is it important to include family in women’s recovery?

 At Sanford House, we believe family involvement is one of the most important components for a healthy, long term recovery.


Family members can be powerful allies in the recovery process. And while a person is in treatment, it is the perfect time to involve family members. During the course of their loved one’s care, family members may begin to recognize their own co-addictions. They may discover non-productive behaviors they have developed, while trying to cope with addiction in the family. Perhaps they have spent so much time putting the addict in the family first, they have forgotten how to prioritize themselves.


It’s a Family Disease…

Quite simply, addiction is a family disease. And it will continue to affect the whole family. It is often the case, that as family members try to help their loved one control their substance use, they lose control over their own behavior.  And their lives become unmanageable. For many family members, managing their loved one’s changing behavior in early recovery is difficult. They are at a loss as to where their responsibilities lie. What is their new role? Often, as contrary as it may seem, they don’t feel needed anymore.


Many family members, are not practicing self-compassion. Nor have they for a long time. And they may have developed negative physical, psychological and social symptoms, as a result of trying to adapt to the stressful living conditions that take place when a loved one is actively using.


Sanford House has developed its family program, to work with all members of the family during treatment and beyond. The family program is designed to educate family members about the disease of addiction.  And to help them define their new roles as they move forward. The program also gives the family members the tools they need, to handle the inevitable bumps in the road to recovery.


Sanford House Family Program is not:

An Al-anon meeting

It is not a  group session together with the woman in treatment (those are scheduled with the woman’s individual therapist)


Sanford House Family Program is:

An educational program to help family members understand the disease of addiction

An aid to understanding substance use and co-occurring mental health issues

And a  discussion about each family member’s role in the recovery/aftercare treatment plan

The development of effective and healthy communication skills and boundary setting

And assistance in providing effective resources through books, articles and community support groups



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Author Lynnel Brewster (RN,MA, NCC, LPC, ADS, LLMFT) brings a compassionate, holistic perspective to her work. With 15 years combined nursing and counseling experience, she is has had plenty of time to develop her style. Lynnel is a Registered Nurse as well as an Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist. Her diverse background includes cross-cultural experiences in Indonesia and Africa. Lynnel spends her free time with her family (especially her grandchildren...) and loves to hike and read. And she loves her job helping individuals rediscover themselves...