The Importance Of Family Support In Prevention Of Addiction Relapse

By Gabriel Adams

Alcohol and Drug addiction has a devastating effect not only on the individual addict but on the entire family as well. It has been proven time and again that successfully overcoming addiction to alcohol and drugs requires the collaborative effort of the whole family and all those who are directly affected.

Residential rehab programs offer addicts various programs that are especially designed to alleviate the pain of withdrawal symptoms and to provide constructive outlets for their various addictive urges. One of the biggest set backs to long term relapse prevention is the temptation to resort to old habits once the recovered addict leaves the structured environment of the rehab program and re-enters his old surroundings. Family and spousal support is paramount during this phase of relapse prevention. In the absence of a solid support system, the former addict will most likely slip back into addiction.

Addiction is a Family Ailment

Alcoholism is considered as a family disease in medical circles and in the community as large. The families of alcohol addicts are directly affected by the alcoholism either due to abuse, neglect or sheer embarrassment of the alcoholic’s behavior. They are constantly trying to gauge the alcoholic’s mood and try their best to alter their behaviors in an effort to control the amount of alcohol that the addict may imbibe.

If a family party acts as an incentive to encourage drinking, they would rather forego the party and cancel all plans rather than run the risk of initiating another alcoholic binge. While many wives try their best to be supportive and non-critical of their partner’s addiction, even a supposed slight is enough for the addict to relapse into alcoholism.

Role of Family in Relapse Prevention

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Living with a recovering alcohol addict is tough on their families who constantly feel like they are walking on eggshells. They have to measure everything they do, think about where they go and censor what they eat at family meal times.

Studies show there are 17 common triggers that can compromise an alcohol addict’s journey to recovery. Observing these few rules will help pre-empt these triggers and increase the odds of the addict staying clean for a longer time:

If the occasion calls for alcohol to be served, inform the recovering alcoholic in advance of the various non-alcoholic beverages that he can choose from.

Avoid serving any dishes that contain alcohol.

Steer clear of pubs and former favorite hanging-out venues.

Do not keep any alcohol or alcoholic products within easy reach; preferably do not keep any in the house at all.

Do not be obsessive or continuously nag your spouse about the use of alcohol.

Be supportive of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and make sure your spouse attends all the meetings.

Make it a point to keep all doctor’s appointments and do not give up on the therapy, no matter how frustrating and tiring it may be.

Try and keep to your former routines as much as possible, they provide the recovering addict with much-needed stability.

Do not harbor resentment or ill feelings for damage done or hurt caused during the addictive phase. Letting it go and learning to forgive and forget hastens the healing process.

Recovering from addiction is a complex process. Expect set-backs along the way and try not to hold it against the person who is also facing an uphill battle in his struggle against addiction.

Make sure that one addiction is not replaced by another.

Watch for changes in behavioral patterns. Signs of unexplained depression, anger or anxiety could be silent signals that the recovering addict may relapse into addiction.

Do not let the recovering addict stop medications without the doctor’s advice.

Remember that addiction is nobody’s fault. It is an ailment much like other medical conditions and the addict should not be blamed or personally faulted. Unnecessary blame and criticism can only provoke the victim into relapse and does nothing to help recovery.

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