Updated: May 30
Many people in recovery find it difficult to ask others for support because of the feelings of guilt and shame that emanate from how they treated others during their active days of addiction. Some think if they ask for help they are imposing, whereas others think they are expressing their weaknesses. Asking for support makes some people feel vulnerable. As an individual in recovery it is important to know you cannot do it alone, you need support from others throughout your recovery journey. Therefore, having a strong support system is a vital component in your recovery which can minimise the risk of relapsing.
The Importance of Family Support in Recovery
Family dynamics are often damaged through substance abuse and addiction. Eroding trust, weakened communication, and deathly fear. When a loved one suffers from a substance use disorder family members experience a wide range of painful emotions. When someone depends on substances it leaves a loved one hopeless.
Family members feel helpless when they see a loved one suffering. It is common for addicts to feel alone in their struggles to overcome their disease. Addiction - and Recovery - has a detrimental impact on friends and families as much as it does on the individual. Addiction recovery hinges on the support of family members.
The vital success of treatment is the support from loved ones during the journey. Entering a treatment program is not the only step towards living a sober life. Liberating oneself from the burdens of substance dependence is a lifelong journey. A journey that requires love, support, and understanding.
How Does Family Support Work?
Accepting that addiction may cause hardship is the most important thing you can do. Family members, friends, and spouses play a crucial part in recovery. The commitment to family support is important throughout recovery. We assist families to navigate these hardships during early recovery. We help you develop a plan to deal with a loved one during this time. Often dealing with these potential challenges to avoid further hardship;
Consolidating debt or dealing with other financial problems
Finding or regaining a stable job
Unrelenting physical and mental illness
The importance of repairing relationships and restoring trust
Maintaining a caring and involved attitude
The disease of addiction is chronic and progressive. Recovery happens over time not overnight and the solution is to work together. Although your loved one may have completed an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. The consequences of substance abuse can last long after they return home.
Families may need to make some lifestyle changes following the return of a loved one. Families are often expected to commit to maintaining alcohol- and drug-free home environment. An atmosphere of sobriety, with stability at home, helps to prevent relapses, especially in the early recovery phase. While recovering addicts feel isolated they crave the understanding and support from their friends and family. This helps them to ensure that they maintain their sobriety to achieve long-term recovery wholehearted support from family is vital.
The importance of having support in recovery
Support systems help you to prevent isolation, you always have people to give you companionship.
Knowing you have someone to support you increases your self-confidence which is essential in recovery as it keeps you focused and motivated.
A strong support system helps you gain a sense of accountability for your goals.
Most people who are in recovery report a time where they become complacent, so in this time your support system will be able to make you aware of it, minimising the risk of relapse.
Support systems can also equip you with coping skills when you are having difficult times or facing certain challenges that might put you at risk of relapse.
Different types of support
There are different types of support systems that people in recovery can benefit from. As a recovering addict, you are encouraged to have all the different types of support as they have different roles in the kind of support they offer you.
1. Social Support
Social support is mainly comprised of people who know you well, which is mostly your friends and family members. These individuals should be able to encourage you and at the same time being able to make you accountable. Social support gives you a sense of belonging, safety, and security. Social support can provide you with needed companionship and emotional support.
2. Support Groups
People in recovery are encouraged to attend support groups regularly. Attending support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcohol Anonymous enables you to share your journey with others who are facing similar situations. This gives you a sense of belonging and it makes you feel less isolated.
There are support groups where families/loved ones of a person in recovery can attend, which is Al-anon and Nar-anon. Al-anon is a fellowship program for families or friends with a loved one who is an alcoholic, and Nar-anon is a program for families and friends who have been affected by drug addiction directly or indirectly.
3. Therapeutic Support
Individuals in recovery sometimes do not feel comfortable sharing some of their challenges/situations with neither their social support nor support groups because of fear of judgment or confidentiality. In these circumstances, it is advised to make use of your therapeutic support. Therapeutic support comprises professional therapists who have expertise in helping people without judging and maintains confidentiality such as psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, etc.
4. Spiritual Support
Many people struggle with the spirituality concept in recovery. When most people hear the word spirituality they associate it with being religious. “Spirituality involves the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than myself, something more to being human than sensory experience, and that the greater whole of which we are part is cosmic or divine in nature,” explains Dr Maya Spencer from RC Psych. Having spiritual support offers a sense of hope and it restores your self-worth and offers you a new sense of hope in your life.
How to build your support system
To build a strong support system, you need to first ask yourself what kind of support system you are looking for.
Make a list of all the resources available to you that you require support from.
From your list identify what kind of support you can get from those resources you have listed down.
Reach out to the people on your list and be open and honest to them about the kind of support you need from them.
If you feel you need more people in your support system, do not be afraid to take social risks and meet new people in your life. The best way for someone in recovery to meet new people is through volunteering, trying out new activities/hobbies and join professional or social organisations. Also making amends with people whom you have wronged during your active addiction days can widen your choice in building your support system.
Family Support Groups and Addiction Treatment
Our inpatient program provides addicts with opportunities to connect with peers. The 12-Step groups are among the most common. Twelve-step programs emphasize accountability and spirituality as ways to maintain sobriety.
Family members of alcoholics and addicts can receive support from Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. These groups bring together victims of addiction. Groups where they can discuss the challenges they face with a loved one's substance abuse. Al-Anon/Nar-Anon emphasize acceptance and compassion while their spiritual themes are like those of other 12-Step groups.
Even though substance abuse can cause lasting damage to families. The family remains the best type of support for recovering addicts and their families. There is hope for both family members and for loved ones abusing harmful substances.
Part of our program at PRC Recovery is to assist the client and family with finding suitable support after discharge. Family support forms part of our detailed aftercare plan and is crucial to maintaining sobriety. For support please have a look at the available resources below or contact us if you need help.
Pace Recovery Centre, 081 246 7452, prcrecovery.co.za
Alcoholics Anonymous South Africa, 0861 435 722, aasouthafrica.org.za
Narcotics Anonymous South Africa, 0861 00 6962, na.org.za
Al-Anon South Africa, 0861 252 666, alanon.org.za
Nar-Anon South Africa, 088 129 6791, nar-anon.org.za
Co-Dependents Anonymous South Africa, codasouthafrica.co.za