How Al-Anon Helps Keep Loved Ones Engaged in the Drug Treatment Recovery
Addicts in recovery go through a difficult time coming to grips with the effects of addiction and making the needed changes to improve their lives. Likewise, loved ones also enter into a process of change in response to the addict’s growth and development.
Change in any form can disrupt families as well as cause distress to the individual members that make up a family unit. Al-Anon support groups provide a safe and healing environment for those who bear the brunt of addiction’s effects. By offering ongoing support and guidance, Al-Anon support groups work to equip loved ones with the tools they need to support the addict’s recovery efforts.
Effects of Drug Abuse on Families
It’s not uncommon for families to watch as the effects of drug abuse transform a loved one into a completely different person. According to Indiana University at Bloomington, over time, the four characteristics of the addiction mindset prevail within the addict’s day-to-day life:
- Obsession with drugs
- The need to compulsively use drugs and experience the resulting “high” effect
- An overall loss of control over drug-using behaviors
- A firm denial of the problem
As drug’s take over a person’s life, he or she enters into a new way of dealing with self and others that often brings about hurt feelings and destructive ends. During the course of drug use, families adapt and adjust accordingly with each family member settling in as best as he or she knows how. Unfortunately, attempts to adapt to the addict’s behavior place families inside an even worse state of dysfunction.
Family Roles in the Addict’s Life
After months or years of living with an addict, family members can fall into harmful behavioral patterns that only work to support the addict’s drug-using behaviors. According to the University of Massachusetts at Boston, loved ones often enter into codependency and/or enabling roles in an effort to cope with the addict’s behaviors. Codependency entails being compliant in the face of the addict’s destructive behaviors, whereas enablers may, knowing or unknowingly, protect or cover for the addict’s shortcomings.
Al-Anon Support Groups
While the addiction problem may seem to begin and end with the addict, the family can play a pivotal role in helping the addict overcome addiction in his or her life. In order to do this, loved ones must make a break from the addiction-based patterns and behaviors that encourage the addict’s ongoing drug use. Al-Anon support groups focus on helping loved ones take back control of their lives from addiction’s effects. In the process, the addict has no choice but to be accountable for his or her actions.
Al-Anon’s Therapeutic Effects
The ongoing support and exchange of insights and experiences that takes place in Al-Anon support group meetings help loved ones better understand addiction’s pull and take the steps necessary to improve their quality of life. The therapeutic effects of Al-Anon enable loved ones to:
- Reconnect with their own feelings and emotions
- Develop inner strength and a sense of self-worth
- Set boundaries in terms of placing limits on what will and will not be tolerated as far as the addict’s behaviors go
- Take responsibility for their own well-being and quality of life
Families function as a system made up of individual members. As one member changes, the system changes in one way or another, for good or for bad. In effect, the family as a unit goes through the recovery process along with addict.
To these ends, Al-Anon support groups help loved ones develop the strength and awareness needed to support the addict’s recovery process while nurturing and taking care of themselves along the way.