Alcohol addiction is a complex and challenging issue affecting millions worldwide. The path to recovery can be arduous, but individuals can overcome this formidable challenge with the right support system in place. One crucial element that significantly influences the success of alcohol recovery is the involvement of friends and family. At Anatta, we understand the critical importance of a strong support system when it comes to alcohol recovery. In this article, we will delve into the vital role that friends and family play in supporting individuals on their journey to sobriety. By highlighting the significance of these relationships, we can help individuals understand the impact of their loved ones and provide insights for those seeking valuable information.
When any substance use reaches the stage of addiction, the Communication of the person addicted to the alcohol/drugs with themself and with those around him, especially family, friends and co-workers, gets disturbed and distorted. The person in the throes of active addictive use never sees the destruction it is causing to his/her life, social life, health etc. One gets blindsided by one's active substance use. Post intoxication, calls can be made drunk and high speaking gibberish, picking up fights, being insulting; likewise, messages can also be sent that hit below the belt and are vicious. However, when friends and family point out the obnoxious behaviour and mannerisms post intoxication, they are met with more offensive and defensive justifications and disbelief by the person addicted. Initially, the addict starts avoiding and blocking people out of anger, assuming they have suddenly turned against them and are accusing them. Eventually, friends and family start avoiding them as they do not need to face such intoxicated behaviours, and invitations begin to dwindle. The reasons are, however, very often not communicated to the person suffering from addiction. The individual struggles to control his/her usage and isolates himself from family and friends. The family, without being aware that addiction is a disease and that the individual has become a puppet in the hands of the alcohol/drugs, scolds, berates, fights, and demeans the individual. They also become a puppet to their emotions. The addict makes this damaged Communication from the family as an excuse to drink/use. Both are wrong and suffer from the consequences of this miscommunication. Here the dependent is going around the substance trying to control its usage, and the family around him/her is trying to control his usage, thereby being co-dependent. Unconsciously the family and close friends thus enable the use. The one addicted also never uses the way they want to use but does not know how to stop and is unable to communicate that he needs help. The family does not know what to say and when to get him to seek help, and the resultant Communication becomes futile. The family needs to meet a person expert in the field to learn the right kind of Communication and the necessary help to get the addicted individual into treatment.
Alcohol recovery greatly benefits from the support and involvement of friends and family. Emotional support, encouragement, and motivation from loved ones create a strong foundation for individuals on their journey to sobriety. They provide a safe and supportive environment, serve as accountability partners, and educate themselves about addiction to offer meaningful assistance. Active participation in support programs and therapies helps build community and understanding. Ultimately, friends and family play a crucial role in rebuilding strained relationships and fostering a supportive network that enhances the chances of successful alcohol rehabilitation and long-term recovery. Recovery from alcohol addiction requires support, love, and encouragement from family and friends. The rehabilitation journey is long and challenging and can take a toll on the individual's mental and emotional health. The support of loved ones can make a significant difference in the individual's journey to sobriety. When individuals receive love and encouragement from their family and friends, they are more likely to stay committed to their recovery plan. The support of loved ones can help individuals overcome the challenges that come with addiction and prevent them from feeling isolated and alone during their journey.
Recovering from alcohol addiction is a multifaceted process that requires a comprehensive approach. Professional Addiction help and therapies play a significant role in this journey, the support and involvement of friends and family are equally essential. Here, we delve into the various ways in which friends and family contribute to the alcohol recovery process:
After counselling themselves to understand and deal with their emotional states, can they genuinely support the person suffering from addiction to alcohol/drugs? One of the cornerstones of successful alcohol/drug addiction recovery is emotional support. Friends and family members play a pivotal role in supporting their loved ones battling addiction. By offering compassion, understanding, and unconditional love, they create a safe space for individuals to express their emotions, fears, and struggles. This emotional support acts as a pillar of strength and reassurance throughout the recovery journey.
Friends and family members can make a significant impact by educating themselves about alcohol addiction and recovery. By understanding the challenges and intricacies of addiction, they can communicate with their loved ones compassionately and informally. Open and honest conversations create an environment of trust and enable individuals to share their experiences, setbacks, and achievements. This open dialogue fosters connection and helps build a solid support system.
Practical assistance is invaluable during the recovery process. Friends and family members can lend a helping hand by providing transportation to treatment centres or therapy sessions, helping with household chores or childcare responsibilities, or assisting with other practical matters that may arise. By alleviating some of the burdens and stressors, they allow the individual in recovery to focus on their healing journey.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for sustained sobriety. Friends and family can actively participate in promoting healthy habits by engaging in activities such as exercise, cooking nutritious meals together, or exploring new hobbies. These positive and constructive activities not only divert attention from cravings but also provide opportunities for bonding and strengthening relationships.
While support is essential, avoiding enabling behaviours that may hinder the recovery process is equally important. Friends and family members must set healthy boundaries and refrain from participating in activities that will allow addictive behaviours. Encouraging accountability and providing gentle reminders about the importance of sobriety contribute to the individual's long-term success.
Support groups play a vital role in alcohol recovery. Friends and family members can attend support group meetings designed specifically for them, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, or Al-Teen, where they can connect with others facing similar challenges. These support groups offer a safe space to share experiences, gain insights, and learn effective strategies for supporting their loved ones on the path to recovery.
Encouraging and supporting sobriety requires a commitment to the individual's recovery plan. Friends and family can help the individual by encouraging them to stay committed to their recovery goals, attending support groups with them, and offering love and encouragement along the way. It is essential to be patient and understanding during the journey of recovery. Sobriety is a lifelong journey requiring a lot of effort and hard work. The support of loved ones can make a significant difference in the individual's journey to sobriety.
India has some of the best rehabilitation centres that offer comprehensive and personalized care to individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. Anatta is one such rehab in Mumbai that provides a holistic approach to alcohol recovery. Anatta's rehabilitation centre in Delhi programs focus on detoxification, counselling, therapy, and aftercare support. The centre's experts include psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, and therapists who provide personalized care to each individual. The centre's facilities include private rooms, meditation spaces, outdoor activities, and nutritious meals. Drug Rehabilitation centres such as Anatta provide a supportive and safe environment for individuals to begin their journey to sobriety. The support of family and friends combined with the care of professionals can help individuals overcome their addiction and lead a healthy and fulfilling life.
While the focus of alcohol and drug rehabilitation is primarily on the individual struggling with addiction, it is equally important to address the needs of family members and friends affected by their loved one's addiction. Here are some ways in which friends and family members can receive support:
Family therapy is a valuable tool that helps address the impact of addiction on the entire family unit. It provides a safe and supportive environment for family members to express their feelings, manage conflicts, and learn healthy coping mechanisms. Family therapy can also help rebuild trust, improve Communication, and strengthen relationships. When the individual who is addicted comes into treatment, the family needs to go into counselling and receive parallel treatment themselves with the family therapist. It is very important for them to realize through therapy that they are solely responsible for their emotions and the way they feel; it is a choice. This realization and sense of responsibility make them self-reliant and not emotionally dependent on the person who suffers from addiction.
Family members and friends need to seek their support systems. This can include joining support groups for families affected by addiction, attending counselling sessions, or contacting therapists specializing in addiction recovery. Having a space to share your experiences, fears, and frustrations can be tremendously helpful in navigating the challenges of supporting a loved one through their recovery journey.
Supporting a loved one through Alcohol recovery can be emotionally draining. Friends and family members must set boundaries to protect their own well-being. This may involve learning to say no, practising self-care activities, and seeking respite when needed. By taking care of themselves, friends and family members can maintain their mental and emotional health, ensuring they can continue offering support.
Clear and open Communication is essential in any relationship, especially when supporting someone in recovery. Encourage your loved one to communicate their needs, fears, and concerns and ensure they feel heard and understood. Similarly, express your own thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental and compassionate manner. Healthy Communication fosters trust and understanding and strengthens the support system.
Relapse is a common challenge in recovery. Educating yourself on the signs of relapse, triggers, and coping mechanisms can help you better support your loved one. By understanding the potential risks and challenges, you can offer guidance, encouragement, and resources to help prevent relapse and promote long-term sobriety.
Family therapy is a powerful and effective approach in the realm of addiction recovery. It recognizes that addiction not only affects the individual struggling with substance abuse but also significantly impacts the family unit. By involving the family in the recovery process, family therapy aims to enhance Communication, foster understanding, and promote healing for everyone involved. This section will explore the benefits and principles of family therapy in addiction recovery.
Addiction disrupts the dynamics within a family, often leading to strained relationships, breakdowns in Communication, and a sense of isolation. Family therapy seeks to address these issues by providing a safe and supportive environment for open dialogue and exploration. It acknowledges that family members play a crucial role in the recovery journey and aims to strengthen familial bonds while addressing the underlying factors contributing to the addiction.
Education and Awareness: Family therapy begins with education about addiction, its effects, and recovery. By gaining knowledge and understanding, family members can develop empathy and compassion for their loved one's struggles. Education also helps dispel misconceptions and reduce the stigma surrounding addiction.
Effective Communication is vital in any relationship, and family therapy emphasizes the importance of open and honest dialogue. Family members are encouraged to express their feelings, concerns, and experiences in a safe and non-judgmental space. Through improved Communication, conflicts can be resolved, and misunderstandings can be addressed.
Enabling behaviours can inadvertently perpetuate the cycle of addiction. Family therapy helps family members recognize enabling behaviours and provides guidance on setting healthy boundaries. Family members can better support their loved one's recovery journey by learning to distinguish between support and enabling.
Therapy for the co-dependent is essential even if the dependent does not come into treatment or recovery. If therapy is not taken, then indirect enabling behaviours continue like:
- Giving money for use when a tantrum is thrown or things are broken in the house
- Protecting the loved one from the law when caught for substance use.
- The co-dependent would be emotionally acceptable when the dependent is not using and are not fine when the user continues. They become reactive – mood-altering them, resulting in fights that are then used as excuses to use by one addicted to the substance.
If therapy is received, then:-
Addiction often erodes trust within a family. Family therapy offers a platform for rebuilding trust by facilitating honest conversations and promoting accountability. Trust is gradually rebuilt through consistent actions, open Communication, and shared commitment to recovery.
Family therapy recognizes that unresolved issues from the past can contribute to the complexity of addiction. By addressing underlying family dynamics and past traumas, therapy provides an opportunity for healing and growth. Resolving these wounds fosters a healthier and more supportive environment for recovery.
Family therapy strengthens the support system around the individual in recovery. By involving the family, it creates a network of understanding and empathy. This support system serves as a foundation of encouragement and stability throughout the recovery journey.
Effective Communication is vital for healing relationships. Family therapy provides a structured platform for family members to express themselves, listen to one another, and work through conflicts. Improved Communication fosters understanding, reduces tension, and promotes healthier interactions.
Addiction often creates divisions within families. Family therapy aims to bridge these gaps and promote family cohesion. By fostering a sense of togetherness and shared goals, therapy helps rebuild bonds and strengthens the family unit as a whole.
Addiction can be influenced by underlying family dynamics and unresolved issues. Family therapy addresses these factors, allowing family members to work through their challenges and contribute to the healing process. Resolving these underlying issues significantly increases the chances of sustained recovery.
It is very natural at this time for the co-dependent to feel that this individual who was an absentee father/mother, an absentee son/daughter, or an absentee husband /wife suddenly wants to take on and participate in all these roles. It takes time for the co-dependent family to accept and acknowledge this apparent sudden shift in paradigm. It is not easy for them to leave their control over the house, the children, the business, and finances. This is due to their past experiences with the individual when they were drinking and using. If they have not received help and worse, if they have not accepted support for themselves, the dependent's spouse, parent or children continue to look at the addict who is now in recovery with "old eyes". The past is brought up frequently and thrown at them in arguments and conversations.
Expectations also increase towards the addict in recovery back home, as though going to rehab has been a miracle turning point, and everything will now be fine, far from reality. The actual life issues surface and must be faced head-on with emotional stability.
It must be understood by the one who has received help for his addiction that his recovery is not dependent on the support or lack of support from the family and loved ones.
However, the above is possible only when the spouse, family and friends are willing to work on themselves too, as much as the person addicted to the substance does, with the writing, the counselling and the meditations. Building up and bridging relationships are enabled by professional experiential counsellors through self-disclosure. Having a family intervention with the counsellors after about 4 weeks of residential stay of the dependent in the treatment facility is extremely important so that issues in the relationships can be faced and dealt with. Solutions arrived at in a conducive environment.
Family therapy equips family members with the tools and strategies necessary to support their loved one's long-term recovery. It guides coping mechanisms, relapse prevention, and ongoing Communication. The skills acquired during family therapy extend beyond the therapy sessions, ensuring continued support even after formal treatment ends. When the individual in residential treatment and the co-dependent become self-reliant, they can meet on a common platform of friendliness and compassion- dysfunctionalities dwindle away and a life that is truly fulfilling beyond drinking and using surfaces. This process requires patience, effort and understanding between all parties involved.
Managing Director and Counsellor
Primary Counsellor and Facilitator
Since 2003, he has been actively treating those afflicted and affected by chemical dependency using Meditation and Counseling as cornerstones of therapy.
Psychiatrist and Consultant
Dr. Jerajani is a consultant psychiatrist with a niche practice in Mumbai for the last three decades. He has worked in the field of Chemical Dependency ever since.
Administrative Director & Family Therapist
Management expert & counsellor
Vandana Hiranandani is an important part of the team of Anatta that helps organise Seminars, Workshops and Awareness Programs facilitated by Anatta Humanversity.
Director and Counsellor
A Bachelor in Homoeopathic Medical Science from Mumbai with a Post Graduation from The Hahnemann College of Homoeopathy – London.
Consultant Cardiologist, expert in Addiction management & HIV-AIDS care
Dr. M. Shashidhara Menon trained at the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune (1974) and Institute of Naval Medicine (Mumbai University), India, has done post doctoral Fellowship training in HIV Medicine and Biostatistics from the University of South Florida, USA