In any intervention for a drug addict, the disposition of the addict’s family is exceedingly important.
Full recovery involves not only restoring the addict’s life, but also ensuring that the people around the addict are also capable of helping with the long-term goal of total abstinence from drugs.
What Is Family Support?
Family support is a term used to describe a series of intervention practices that help family members cope with the effects of their loved one’s drug addiction. Often interventions focus solely on the addict, and tend to downplay the harmful effects drug use has on the family dynamic.
Family members are often hurt, confused or angry when it comes to confronting the addict. This is counterproductive to the recovery process and may lead to future problems with both the recovering addict and the affected family members.
Advice for the Family
Strategies Used in Family Support
Family support is focused on discovering any problems between the family and the addict and repairing any damage that is found. According to the Effective Interventions Unit Evaluation Guide, family support strategies include:
- Providing information. Often family members have an incomplete understanding about what the addict is going through and the effects that drug addiction has on the inner workings of their family. Information on the circumstances confronting the family helps support and motivate the family.
- Family Therapy. By including the whole family in the therapy process (including the recovering drug addict), healthcare professionals are able to assess and address any problems existing between family members. The overall goal is to help ensure that the family provides an environment that helps that addict stay drug-free.
- Counseling. Family members often need individual counseling, which can provide them with information on how to cope with the problems that exist and may arise. Counseling also gives a therapist the opportunity to teach family members skills that will help them repair any damage to their relationship with the addict.
- Respite. An addict’s family is often subjected to long-term stress. This places a palpable emotional burden on each affected member of the family. Once the problems associated with drug addiction have been noted and treated, this burden decreases. The goal of any intervention is to improve the lives of not only the drug addicts, but also the lives of all affected family members.
- Telephone hotline. The timing of drug-related emergencies or problems is typically unpredictable. Family members may suddenly experience severe depression or anger in regard to the situation. A 24/7 telephone hotline provides the family with an avenue for them to seek help at all times.
- Family support groups. Families going through similar drug-related conditions believe they are alone and separated from the rest of society. This is not true. There are many families who may be going through a similar set of circumstances. By bringing these families together, they are often able to support each other during times of crisis. However, the dynamic in these family support groups must constantly be monitored to ensure that the relationship is beneficial for all parties involved.
The goal of family support in the interventional setting is to provide family members with the information, skills and counseling they need to cope with the devastating effects of drug addiction. Once the family dynamic has been strengthened, the chances of a successful recovery are greatly enhanced.
Treatment is the Next Step
After you hold an intervention, you will need to take the next step toward your loved one’s recovery; find the right treatment that works best for his or her needs. The following are important phases of the rehab process that should be investigated in some depth.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton