Family members typically want to do everything they can to help a loved one who is struggling with addiction. However, some family members may hinder the recovery process, either knowingly or unintentionally. It’s crucial for the family and friends of those struggling with addiction to recognize how they may be contributing to the problem.
This topic is extremely relevant when a loved one is working through a 12-step program. Success in a 12-step recovery program depends on repairing relationships with friends and family. That’s why it’s so important for family members to understand how their behavior can limit a loved one’s progress along the 12 steps.
Family Roles Hinder Recovery
Family members of individuals struggling with addictions often engage in enabling behaviors without realizing it. They genuinely desire to help, but their actions actually hurt the situation by making it easier for their loved one to continue an addiction without facing the consequences.
When family members facilitate an addiction, or “enable” the problem, they discourage their loved one from seeking treatment. It is important for family members to recognize and address enabling behaviors before attempting an intervention.
Unfortunately, the “enabler” is just one of many toxic roles that family members can unintentionally play in the lives of their addicted loved one.
Understanding these roles and why family members adopt them is critical in helping a loved one progress through the 12 steps.
Communication Is Key
During the early stages of recovery, perhaps even before an intervention takes place, communication is a crucial factor in preventing enabling behaviors and other toxic dynamics. The more family members open up to their loved one as a source of support and accountability, the less likely they will fall into an enabling role.
Improving communication will help a loved one successfully move through the 12 steps as well. On the other hand, failure to do so will make it impossible for your loved one to move forward in recovery.
Put Recovery First
Some family members may feel neglected, slighted or ignored in light of a loved one’s addiction. It’s important to for families to recognize that helping their loved one succeed in recovery is the top priority.
There will be a time, later down the road, where family members can hold their loved one accountable for mistakes he or she made in addiction. For now, however, a family’s first job is to help their loved one succeed in a 12-step program. Choosing confrontation over recovery will only lead to more problems.
One of the most significant steps in the 12-step framework is making amends. During this phase, an addicted person assesses the damage done to others. This can include theft, emotional outbursts, violence or any other harmful acts.
The 12- step participant is called to make amends through an earnest effort to reconcile various relationships. Family members can hurt the recovery process by denying forgiveness to a loved one.
Help for Families Struggling with Addiction
Not everyone suffering from addiction is going to deal with the problem in the same way. That’s why communication between families is so important. Unfortunately, the curse of addiction can make communication extremely difficult.
Regardless of whether a loved one is just entering treatment or halfway through the 12 steps, getting input from a professional always helps.
If a loved one is struggling with addiction and has yet to seek treatment, get in touch with Family First Intervention. We can put our extensive experience and training to use and help family members understand their roles in the recovery process. Many family members wind up being destructive forces unknowingly, and we can help clarify the line between helping and enabling.