If you are the parent of a young adult who struggles with addiction, you know the effect this disease can have on all the family members who are involved. Addiction is a family disease; it impacts parents, siblings, and other close family members in different ways, but everyone feels the pain of addiction.
Whether it’s your son, your sibling, or any other close family member who has completed detoxification and is in the process of completing treatment and recovery, they are entering a pivotal point of their recovery journey — aftercare.
What is Aftercare for Young Adults?
An aftercare program is any kind of support that young adults receive after going through detoxification as they enter treatment and recovery. Aftercare programs can include therapy, 12-step programs, sober living or residential treatment facilities, and outpatient treatment programs.
Aftercare programs are critical for young people to continue facing their substance abuse and mental health issues and continue learning coping skills as they navigate life without drugs or alcohol. Aftercare in young adults is particularly important for the treatment of addiction because it provides ongoing support and accountability. Young adults are susceptible to falling back into their old habits or giving in to peer pressure to do drugs or drink alcohol, and an aftercare program helps prevent relapse.
The consequences of not receiving aftercare for young people can be severe. The risk of relapse increases significantly in this scenario. Additionally, young adults can develop other mental health disorders if they aren’t regularly seeking therapy for addiction. Without therapy and other needed support, the challenges of recovery can lead to the development of mental illness. For this reason alone, aftercare is extremely important for recovery.
Family Therapy in Addiction Recovery
One of the pillars of recovery is the family unit surrounding the person with an addiction. Recovery helps the whole family heal from the trauma and pain that substance use can cause.
When a family member becomes sober, there is a lot of healing that has to take place within families. While it’s important to focus on providing support for the person in treatment, it’s also necessary to acknowledge the struggles and pain that family members have endured along the way and to work together in therapy to move forward.
In family therapy, parents and siblings can begin the process of rectification and healing from the addiction their child or sibling experienced. Along the way, families can gain new skills and perspectives that will help them offer healthy, productive support to the young man in need.
Here are a few of the ways that families can benefit from being involved in addiction recovery.
- Learn about addiction and the complications of the disease
- Utilize family support groups for addiction
- Learn the healthy roles they can take to support an addicted family member
- Establish healthy boundaries with family members
- Rebuild trust and respect in relationships
- Learn how to communicate effectively with an addict
- Participate in family therapy to support their loved one as they pursue sobriety
The more support a family can provide a loved one during their journey to sobriety, the better. Addiction may be a family disease, but recovery is most successful when it’s a family effort. That’s not to say that recovery and family therapy won’t present their own challenges and conflicts. Therapy can bring a lot of complicated feelings and painful emotions to the surface.
What is Family Programming?
Family programming represents the continued education and therapy that families receive with their young person and the treatment team. Parents, siblings, and other close family members can show support for the young person by staying involved in their aftercare,
Through group therapy and one-on-one sessions, the whole family can gain skills and resources to support their child or young person in aftercare, returning home, and creating a new life as a sober person.
Through family programming, families can learn how to resolve past conflicts, let go of judgments, avoid engaging in codependent behavior, and more than anything, the best ways to provide support for the young person in their family.
In an aftercare plan, many treatment elements involving families include individual counseling, group therapy, and weekly programs to meet with other families who are facing the same challenges. Building camaraderie and relationships with others can be a very rewarding and productive part of treatment and aftercare, both for the young person and his family.
What Does Family Programming Focus On?
Many family members feel taken advantage of, betrayed, and even abused by their family member who has struggled with addiction. As a family endures the heartbreak and pain of watching a young adult struggle with addiction, many have to try to move on and recover alone.
This can cause many emotions and feelings that they may not feel comfortable sharing with someone in recovery. Family therapy and programming create a safe space for these family members to talk about their struggles and emotions, feelings of guilt, fear, and betrayal. Here are the other focuses and benefits of family programming.
Strengthening family bonds
Family members are often the first people to get taken advantage of by people struggling with addiction. Whether they stole money to buy drugs, missed a holiday or celebration, or showed up high to an important family function. These types of scenarios are common in addiction, and family therapy allows everyone to rebuild trust, reconnect, and fix the issues that come as a result of addiction.
Fixing toxic behaviors
Enablement by family members is extremely common in addiction. Often enablement comes in the form of financial assistance, providing the individual housing, continuously posting bail, refusing to see that their loved one is using, or denial of how bad the situation is.
In therapy, loved ones can understand the toxicity of these enabling behaviors and learn how to change the family dynamic and their specific relationship with the individual.
Boundaries are essential to an aftercare plan for the success and assimilation of the individual back into everyday life. Drawing a line can be uncomfortable for family members, but it can also create trust and accountability.
Boundaries for someone in recovery often include:
- No longer providing financial support or free housing
- An agreed-upon curfew in the evenings
- Requiring the young person to participate in household duties
- Cutting off contact with pre-sobriety unhealthy relationships
- Requiring the individual to attend their aftercare programs and the next steps in recovery
- Removing all drugs and alcohol from the home for all residents, not just the person in recovery. Support for someone’s recovery can be shown by not drinking in the home where they live
Since families can’t control exactly what an individual does, creating healthy boundaries allows everyone involved to voice their personal needs and feel respected, important, and heard.
Relapse is most likely to happen in the first 90 days of treatment. In the event that your young adult is returning home to live with you, it’s important to have an open conversation about the rules and expectations of them living in your home.
Expectations and rules will vary from family to family. Still, you can decide together in therapy what the right steps are to help your young person stay sober, get back on their feet, and ultimately, re-enter society, and find their own path.
You may think that expectations may cause hostility or feelings of distrust from the recovering person. However, they are working on creating boundaries and expectations for themselves in therapy as well. It’s an acquired skill, and it takes practice to get it right.
Sober Living and Family Programming at New Life House
At New Life House, our programming helps integrate, inform, and educate families on the consequences of addiction and how to repair relationships that may have been frayed by substance abuse or mental health issues. New Life House is not only a sober living in Los Angeles but a destination to rebuild your life.
Last Updated on February 13, 2023