Much of the time and energy given to the recovery advocacy movement focuses on the person in or seeking recovery. This person is their own individual and deserves to be recognized as such. Yet, they are likely also a family member – a son, daughter, sibling, or partner (maybe they, like me, are many of those things!). It seems that the experience of family members and significant others are often not given the weight they deserve. Thus, this article focuses on validating the necessary recovery process of families and offering some resources available to these groups.
Certain recovery literature describes a person in active use as a tornado, whirling through their surroundings, unaware of the damage they are causing to those around them. Perhaps this is not true for everyone over the course of their active substance use disorder, but it most definitely resonates with me. I was far too busy focusing on alcohol and fitting in to realize that I was effectively closed off from showing up for my family and others close to me. It has taken several years of continued recovery work to be able to acknowledge the depth of the emotional, physical, and financial toll that my use had on my family and loved ones. I am sure, as additional years go by, that more of that impact will be revealed. It is with a grateful heart that I recognize that the positive ripple effects of being in recovery are slowly but surely helping to make peace with what came before this.
As I mentioned above, the harm done to family and loved ones takes countless forms. Often there is a financial deficit felt by one or more treatment episodes; there is almost certainly an emotional effect on parents, siblings, and partners who have spent weeks, months, or years consistently wondering if and when their loved one would turn a corner. This emotional harm is closely linked to physical stress responses: anxiety, depression, and all of the manifestations of acute and chronic stress within our bodies. These deficits are not easily overcome, but the process of recovery from all of these tribulations is a worthwhile one, and it does not need to be taken on alone.
If you relate to any of the examples above, know that you can begin your personal or family recovery journey – with the support of others in positions similar to yours, and with the help of professionals – whenever you would like. Life of Purpose works closely with the family members of clients by sharing with the family the nature of what to expect while their loved one is in treatment. Further, during the treatment episode, lines of communication between clinical staff and family members remain open. Life of Purpose’s interactions with family members are deliberate, caring, and consistent.
In addition to these resources that we provide directly, there are myriad family support groups near and far. Fortunately, the growing understanding of the immense impact experienced by the people who surround a person in or seeking recovery is resulting in groups and organizations blossoming up all over the place to address this. One such resource is Young People in Recovery (YPR), a national grassroots advocacy organization with nearly 100 chapters across the country. YPR welcomes family and loved ones to the table because the experiences from this demographic must be vocalized. It takes very little time and no money to become a YPR Supporter, the benefits of which include becoming part of a national network of people with experiences very similar to yours, as well as being kept up to date about all that is unfolding within the recovery advocacy movement.
Depending on where you live, there may be weekly group meetings for affected others, or a non-profit focused on raising this type of awareness and solidarity among those affected. Here is a short list of additional nationwide resources for families.
If you are a family member or partner of someone seeking treatment and you would like more information about the help available to them and to you, please call our admissions office at 1-888-PURPOSE (787-7673).