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Addiction and Family: 5 Things You Need to Know

Sep 25, 2021

Having a realistic understanding of recovery is important as you begin the journey towards a sober life. This is valuable for both a person living with a substance use disorder and their family members. We’ve identified five important elements of addiction recovery you can begin discussing as a family at any time when treatment for drug or alcohol use is needed.

It’s essential to have a practical understanding of addiction treatment and a healthy view of recovery. At Headwaters, we believe recovery is possible for everyone. Medical detox is recommended for patients as the beginning phase of their treatment.

We encourage prospective patients to see time away for recovery as okay. Family services ensure patients receive critical support from loved ones throughout treatment and in family sessions on site. Also, patients learn how to be resilient in their sobriety efforts as recovery doesn’t happen overnight.

Addiction and Family: 5 Things You Need to Know

 1. Recovery is Possible

Believing substance use disorders are treatable is important. It’s a fundamental belief of Origins that people with alcohol use disorders and anyone with addiction can recover completely. We also recognize that recovery isn’t only about the body, it’s also about healing the mind and the spirit.

So what is recovery? We see recovery from mental disorders and/or substance use disorders as a process of change. Patients who come to us are committed to improving their health and wellness, living a self-directed life, and working to achieve their full potential.

Recovery comes in multiple dimensions, and each one needs support. The dimension of health is about helping patients make informed, healthy choices that are aligned with providing physical and emotional well-being.

The dimension of home relates to having a stable and safe living environment. The dimension of purpose is about engaging in meaningful activities, including work, school, volunteering, and caring for family. The fourth dimension, community, ensures a person knows how to create and sustain supportive relationships.

Creating a recovery plan and following it increases the chance for success. The recovery plan should be something in writing that you can refer to daily. It must include the goals you choose for your own wellness.

How you plan to reach those goals should also be a part of the written plan. Your recovery plan can mention your coping strategies. It can also include the daily or weekly activities you choose to do for your own wellness.

 2. A Medical Detox Should Be Included

Every type of treatment for a substance use disorder benefits from a medical detox as a first step. This should be seen as a critical, safe step rather than an optional one. The risk of complications during unsupervised withdrawal is a concern. Some substances, such as alcohol, present a higher risk during withdrawal than others.

Choosing medical detox means you’re being cared for and monitored during the withdrawal process by medical professionals. Withdrawal periods and symptoms vary. It’s important to know how long your body may be affected by withdrawal, depending on which substance you’ve been using.

Let’s look at heroin and certain prescription painkillers. Ending use of these short-acting opioids can begin the onset of withdrawal within 8-24 hours. The withdrawal symptoms themselves may last anywhere from 4-10 days. These symptoms may include nervousness or anxiety, nausea, diarrhea, hot and cold flashes, excessive sweating, muscle cramps/body aches, and more.

Withdrawal symptoms for longer-acting opioids, including methadone, may take 2-4 days to begin and begin to fade after 10 days.

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can begin within 1-4 days. The peak severity usually takes place in the first two weeks, and in some cases, the withdrawal can last months or years if untreated. These withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, seizures, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhea, mood swings, and short-term memory loss.

Withdrawal from alcohol can begin within hours after your last drink. The peak for symptoms comes usually 24-48 hours after your last drink. The risk for seizures can be one of those symptoms in the first 12-48 hours. Other risks include delirium tremens (DTs), agitation, tremors, and hallucinations.

 3. Time Away for Recovery is Okay

It’s natural to want to make your recovery needs fit into your current schedule and lifestyle. You may believe you’re capable of conquering a substance use disorder without prioritizing the work necessary for sobriety. This kind of thinking may have more to do with protecting your self-image and reputation than solving the problem.

Prioritizing recovery work means putting it high on the to-do list, or even at the top. Meeting demands from work and family can divide your attention at a time when recovery is just beginning. Integrating loved ones and work duties into your recovery work is something you can build skills for once you’ve begun and committed to treatment first.

By taking time away for recovery, you’re committing to learning skills needed to create your sober life and be more productive and present in the areas of work and family. In an inpatient program, you’re able to focus on what exacerbated your drug or alcohol use and recognize how it’s affected your life. You’ll be able to discover and experience alternatives to substance use and learn how to have fun while sober.

Taking the time to focus on yourself and your own needs will involve trusting that the people around you can handle things while you’re away. That means giving up some control at home and work. Delegating these responsibilities to others can remove some distractions and allow you to focus on recovery full-time for as long as you need it.

 4. Family Support is Crucial and Available

The support of family members is essential during recovery. They are the ones most impacted by your drinking or drug use and they benefit most from your sobriety. Understanding how to tap into family support may not be easy for everyone, though.

Before treatment begins, conversations with loved ones can be about taking ownership of the substance problem and its impact on the family. It can be a collective conversation with everyone. It can be one-on-one chats with a spouse or child.

Family support can become an ongoing part of a treatment program. Their presence and participation are valuable in your recovery efforts. It’s not automatically obtained in many cases where addiction has broken down family communication and broken trust.

Creating a safe space for family support to flow means restoring two-way communication during sessions. Family members are given the opportunity to openly share how drinking or drug use has affected them. Patients learn how to repair those relationships by actively listening and acknowledging the past harms.

If you feel support from family isn’t available, it’s important to understand this is not a request you need to ever make alone. The treatment team is ready and available to guide you through the process of inviting loved ones to be a part of your recovery work. The team can keep them informed about your progress during a stay and introduce new ways to engage with each other during family sessions.

5. Recovery Doesn’t Happen Overnight

There is no science available to predict how long it will take any individual to get into recovery. That is one of the unknowns faced by someone starting treatment. An attempt to establish an exact timeline will be met with disappointment.

The focus on recovery is to produce the best possible outcome given the information and resources available. It requires following the steps to sobriety given in treatment. It takes testing the strategies learned to see what works and what doesn’t. It takes resilience.

One attempt at sustaining recovery won’t be enough for most people. There will be setbacks. There will be obstacles. Beginning treatment with this awareness is valuable. It reminds patients that sustaining recovery will be a trial-and-error process.

How to handle the recovery setbacks is part of what patients learn in treatment. That learning comes from individual therapy sessions as well as hearing about the experiences of peers in group sessions. Fellow patients are an exceptional resource for reminders about recovery taking time.

Shifting your thinking from recovery as a destination to an ongoing process is important, too. It’s not a finish line where you celebrate. Recovery is a series of steps where your progress is measured in much smaller ways, sometimes only visible to you.

Equipping yourself with the best chance at sustaining recovery begins with a proper diagnosis. For some patients, that will be a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health disorder. Understanding how these two disorders relate and affect each other is a critical part of the recovery work these patients will be doing in and beyond treatment.

Planning for continuing care as early as the beginning of treatment or assessment is recommended. It’s recognition that the work to live a sober life must continue indefinitely. The end of treatment is not the end of recovery work, it’s merely the foundation for every effort that comes next.

Recovery Begins with Reaching out to Headwaters

Headwaters at Origins is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration.

We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs, call us today: 844-439-2837.

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