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Why do family members need to do recovery?

Many family members get defensive and argumentative when we recommend that they go through recovery themselves. They think, “Why the heck do I gotta be here? I’m this successful human being, I’ve raised three good kids and this one happens to be the bad apple. How come the rest of their lives aren’t?” Parents and partners can be legitimately angry and upset: “How come they’re all fine and now that this one’s in recovery I have to come here and have to sit and learn these things? I don’t want to learn these things. Why do I have to?”

Imagine dropping four identical white plates from Ikea from the same height. They will have four different break patterns. Similarly, members in the same family, even if they are raised in the same environment, can react differently, because each person is a unique individual.

Addiction is a Family Disease

We always start by telling family members that addiction is a family disease and it is impossible to look at the strain that it takes on someone’s life and not acknowledge that it impacts the entire family, whether it’s parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents, whoever it is. There are a lot of benefits to family members needing some type of recovery because when family members do seek some type of recovery they learn things that they previously probably were not aware of, so it helps to overcome enabling behaviors which is really important.

Enabling can be extremely dangerous for someone in recovery or for an addict or alcoholic. Recovery helps with learning about financial support and the impact that has on someone and it also helps with learning to effectively establish boundaries. The best thing you could do for your loved one is to help yourself because then you’re modeling healthy behaviors, you’re a role model and you increase awareness and education which is really important.

Recovery = Regain What’s Lost

To anybody that’s resistant to the recovery process we always urge them to give it a try, be open-minded, and maybe they find something in there that they have always needed but never knew they needed. Many family members go in thinking they don’t need recovery but when they go in, all of a sudden they realize that the recovery process actually benefits them, helps them learn about themselves.

The working definition of Recovery means to regain something that’s been lost, stolen or destroyed – which is always our connection to ourselves. If you have a family where three of them are doing really well and one of them is really struggling, at some point we get disconnected to ourselves in this journey called life and recovery just allows us to stop, slow down, turn the mirror, look at ourselves and see who and what we are. It doesn’t have to be through traditional 12-step routes – it could be through individual therapy, it could be through support groups, could be through faith-based stuff, but we all need to recover. Life makes us lose ourselves at times – there’s nothing wrong or shameful about working on ourselves.

When Family Members Do Recovery:

  • It can help improve their loved one’s chances of recovery
  • It establishes (or re-establishes) connection
  • It creates a shared experience with other family members going through the same challenges
  • It provides support, motivation and information needed to understand their loved one’s recovery process
  • Improves communication with their loved ones

Internal vs. External Motivation

In recovery there is a phenomenon called internal versus external motivation. Internal motivation is when someone goes into recovery for themselves. External motivation is when they go into recovery because of external reasons, such as family members going into recovery to support their loved ones. However, once they go in and realize that the recovery is actually helping them, they become internally motivated themselves.

Develop a Common Language

One of the most important things that can come out of family members attending recovery is improved communication. When someone is going through addictions in their family it is safe to assume that miscommunication happens. They don’t understand their loved one, their loved one doesn’t understand them, there’s anger, there’s resentment, there’s frustration, it’s just a cluster of bad communication. When one person gets exposed to recovery and another person gets exposed to recovery what happens is that they start to gain a common language of recovery. They start to say the same things and act the same ways and look at themselves the same way. They stop externally blaming others and start looking at themselves. The common language of recovery allows for them to speak in a way they otherwise wouldn’t be able to speak so it helps them create a language that they both understand.

Here are some insights from some of Buckeye Recovery’s own community:

“Loved ones’ recovery is a gift that affects other relationships in your life. It makes all relationships more authentic.” – Eileen

“For families in recovery you can set a really good example for the loved ones in your life struggling with addiction.” -Jim

“I finally got sober once my family actually got involved in my recovery. Doing anything on your own can be very difficult.” -Michael

In fact, even if you or your loved one is not struggling with drugs, recovery work and 12-step programs can be an amazing process to go through. Recovery process challenges one to look at themselves and the part they play in any situation, understand how their behavior impacts others, and helps them make amends to people that they may have hurt. We think the world in general would benefit from doing recovery work.

If you or your loved one wants to get started on your road to recovery don’t hesitate to reach out to Buckeye Recovery Network to take that first step.

Today is going to be the best day of your life.

Kelsey Gearhart

Director of Business Development

Kelsey carries multiple years of experience working in the substance abuse and mental health treatment field. Her passion for this field comes from her personally knowing recovery from addiction.

Prior to Buckeye she held titles of Recovery Coach, Operations Director, and Admissions Director. Kelsey was brought on at Buckeye Recovery as the Director of Business Development. She has a passion for ensuring every individual gets the help that they need, and does so by developing relationships with other providers.

Kelsey also oversees our women’s sober living environments – The Chadwick House for Women. She is committed to creating a safe, nurturing, and conducive environment for all women that walk through the doors of Chadwick.