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Cedars Family Article

The role of families in addiction and recovery

As human beings, we’re hardwired to want to connect and depend on one another – it’s nearly as important to our mental health as food and water to our physical well-being. Strong social connections help us manage our emotions, make sense of our lives and ourselves and positively impact our overall health. But addiction can twist and distort our social connections, perceptions and relationships, negatively affecting us and those closest to us.

Impact of addiction on relationships

Addiction is often considered a relational disorder, meaning that it doesn’t just impact your health, but changes how you process thoughts and emotions, behave and relate to the people in your life. And, as addicted behaviours damage your relationships, you become more likely to rely on substances to fill the void, creating a vicious circle.

During active addiction, your relationship with your substance of choice is exclusive, and everyone else in your life is forced to either accommodate or cut themselves off.

And while you’re caught in a struggle against compulsion, craving, loss of control and negative consequences, for the people who closest to you, you become the focus of obsessive enabling, blaming, compulsive caretaking and control.

Focusing on families during recovery

Families do not cause addiction nor can they cure or control it, but they can be an important part of the recovery process. During treatment, you’re encouraged to reflect on and talk about your behaviour and attitudes towards your family relationships.

Most treatment stays will include a family conference where you and your family can meet and discuss everyone’s feelings in a therapeutic setting. Your family members will be encouraged to complete a report outlining how your addiction has impacted the family unit and what they wish for your future. At most treatment centres, family members are considered key stakeholders and receive regular updates.

Refocusing family dynamics

The important people in your life – such as your family – can be a key part of your support system, but families often don’t fully understand their role in addiction and recovery. It’s easy for family members to fall into the trap of thinking that being supportive means giving all of themselves and focusing their energy on the addiction. They may develop poor eating habits, start sleeping and exercising less and generally neglect their own health.

At the time, focusing on their hobbies, education or career may not seem as important as supporting you through recovery, but as a loved one, their health and happiness is equally important.

Effective addiction recovery programs work together with you and your family to understand their impact on your addiction and how they can safely and healthily support you through recovery.

Cedars Discovery Program

We believe that with treatment recovery is possible – not just for those struggling with addiction but for the whole family. The Cedars Discovery Program offers healing and practical tools to support families through recovery. Delivered remotely during COVID-19, the program includes multidisciplinary care options like group therapy, educational lectures and experiential exercises.

We understand that addiction has a tremendous impact on the whole family. At the end of the program, family members will have the insights and tools to create healthier, more balanced lifestyles.

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