According to Mark Twain, quitting smoking is easy. “I should know,” he said. “I’ve done it a thousand times.” This is also true of drugs and alcohol. Quitting, while quite the painful and miserable experience, is actually rather easy. It’s the staying stopped that makes things a little more complicated. Maintaining continued sobriety is something that must be done every single day, especially with family involvement. Minute-to-minute, sometimes second by second, the addict must choose to stand firm in their commitment to remain drug and alcohol free.
Maintaining long-term recovery requires immense dedication, discipline and an unwavering sense of inner-strength. More than anything else, however, sobriety requires the addict or alcoholic to have a solid support system. Left to their own devices, most chemically addicted people will inevitably return to drinking or drugging. This is why a 12-step sponsor, recovering friends and recovery meetings are such crucial elements to every chemically dependent person’s success. Having the support of people who understand addiction/alcoholism is a critical element of sobriety. This includes non-addicted friends and family members.
The Family Involvement
Unfortunately, by the time an addict or alcoholic gets treatment, they have burned a lot of bridges. As the chemically dependent person gets sicker, so does the family unit –this is the nature of the far-reaching devastation of addiction. In the early days of an addict/alcoholic’s recovery process, friends and family are usually still baffled, confused and angry by their spouse/parent/child’s recent self-destructive behavior. In the last several months, begging, reasoning and ultimatums have fallen on deaf ears. Well-meaning friends, family members and coworkers are now aware they have been unknowing participants in a barrage of manipulations solely executed for the purpose of feeding the addict’s compulsive drug or alcohol use. Those closest to the addicted person are usually very resentful after continually rescuing the alcoholic/addict time and time again, shielding him or her from their own consequences.
Furthermore, outsiders sometimes perceive the addicted person as unworthy of additional time and attention and completely abandon the situation. Because of the stigma attached to drug and alcohol addiction, people often take the approach that pity and compassion should be reserved for people who are in genuine pain. Many view addiction as a choice, thus treating the addict or alcoholic as a bad, rather than sick, person. It is not uncommon for non-addicts to disconnect themselves from the life of the chemically dependent person and detach altogether.
Seeking Recovery, You Need Your Family
If you are seeking help for your drug or alcohol problem, you have made the right decision and you are well on the road to recovery. No matter what is happening with your loved ones, you must understand they are vital to your recovery. It is equally important for your family to seek help and confront whatever unresolved issues they may be experiencing as a result of your addiction.
You will reach a point in your recovery where it will be appropriate to make a formal amends to your loved ones. For now, make an effort to communicate with them about your intentions. Tell them you are serious about your sobriety and explain the important of their participation.
You might say something like, “I know I have made a lot of mistakes and I am not proud of the way I have behaved. I am truly sorry for everything that has happened, but I don’t expect you to forgive me right away. I know it will take time to rebuild the trust I have lost. I need you now more than ever and I am asking you to be supportive of my recovery. I know we have a long road ahead of us, but I am willing to do my part.”
Encourage your friends and family to take measures to begin their own healing process. Al-Anon meetings are available to family members of addicts and alcoholics to give them the tools they need to battle your addiction with you. These meetings are very therapeutic and will ultimately become a support system for your family members while you seek recovery. You may want to consider individual and family counseling sessions for you and your loved ones. It would also be wise to invite the members of your support team to one of your 12-step meetings so you can introduce them to you your sponsor and recovering friends.
Mark Twain may have quit smoking a thousand times, but you only have to quit drugs and alcohol once. Just for today, with the help of your friends and family, you never have to drug or drink again.