Even as little as fifty years ago, children were so enmeshed in their families’ lives that it was often a predictor of a future career, town to live in, or how they themselves shaped their own family dynamic. While loyalty to family can be a great thing, it can also hinder members of the family from growing into themselves or pursuing their personal interests. Today, our culture is centered on discovering and harnessing our individual identities. Addiction treatment, however, often works best when you blend the two.
As you reach out to family members for support while you walk through treatment, it is important to know, first, what you need out of them–and how to make your own personal needs and journey your first priority. Those who care about you the most can sometimes be the most overwhelming, and that can be stressful if not handled properly. While their support should be a source of stability and strength, it cannot be a stressor or a crutch; you must be able to grow and develop into your own pillar of sustenance in order to remain successful through recovery.
You love your family. They love you. Because this bond can be so strong and visceral–even regardless of your relationship growing up–it can make you feel guilty, anxious, and worn down for not paying heed to each piece of advice, or giving them more energy than you give yourself. If you are able to balance your need for their support and your own internal support system, your confidence in treatment and into recovery can skyrocket.
Use them as support systems, not crutches.
The definition of family has changed drastically over the last twenty years, and it is important that no matter what yours is comprised of–persons by blood, close friends or “chosen” family, or even those in your support groups or treatment–that you use them as motivation throughout your journey. Recovery can be incredibly difficult, and the love and help from those around you can be one of the defining factors in your success–as long as you are able to set clear and reasonable limits for how much you lean on them.
When you’re addicted to a substance, that substance becomes your primary concern. Another way of looking at it is your primary relationship: you care for, love, and think about that substance and its use more than anything else, and those feelings increase over time. Through this addictive process, you begin to drift away from the one you should have a primary relationship with–yourself.
As you go through treatment, it is essential that you focus primarily on rebuilding your self-worth, self-image, and self-trust.[1. http://psychcentral.com/lib/recovery-from-codependency/] This intimate relationship is one that can be bolstered and solidified with the compassion and support of family members and friends, quality individual treatment, and therapy, but you must be the one to ultimately do the deeply personal work of fostering that relationship. By leaning on others too much in this process, you may run the risk of feeling unable to maintain your health into recovery. Instead, listen and receive the advice and love you get from those who care graciously, and use it as inspiration for self-love.
Reflect every day upon your feelings and progress.
Through the ups and downs you will face in treatment, positivity and self-sourced motivation are going to be key. Journaling daily in therapy is a method used often at places like Alta Mira, but doing it on your own time can also create routine, help you release stored emotions–good and bad–and allow you to self-reflect as you progress.
After each family visit, family therapy session, or even phone conversation, write down three positive things you can take from that particular experience or interaction. This will make you focus in on the ways your support system motivates and drives you, and the recording of it will serve as a way for you to see how far you’ve come and where you need to go.[2. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/practice-personal-writing-recovery-takes-too-much-time-or-does-it] By being aware of your innermost thoughts and writing them down in addition to motivational anecdotes from your circle of support, your journal can become an incredibly valuable tool in building your relationship with yourself.
Remember you are number one.
After being codependent (upon your substance) for a long time, it is hard to even remember who you are in the first place. Most addicts go through a stage of grieving in the beginning of treatment when figuring out who they were, are, and want to become–which is completely normal. In fact, it can be a great thing: you are able to build from your experiences without letting them hinder you, and with support from family, friends, therapists, and other professionals, you can ultimately become exactly what you envision.
In order to do this, you must constantly remind yourself that you are your number one priority. After having put yourself by the wayside for a long period of time, it can be difficult to remember how to do so, but it will come quickly once you begin the process of loving and accepting yourself for all you are. Self-sufficiency is a learned trait, and patience with yourself is key in maintaining a healthy and positive relationship with the self throughout treatment.[3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/out-the-darkness/201303/self-sufficiency-essential-aspect-well-being
Try making to-do lists for each day. Begin simply, using small steps at first: take a ten minute walk, speak once in group therapy, approach or reach out to one person in treatment, call one family member, journal for five minutes. As your confidence builds with each met task, up the ante and begin adding activities and tasks that you find personal joy in to remind yourself that you are number one. Maybe that means getting adequate sleep, down time to read or write, or even moments of meditation–but it will ultimately become second nature to take care of yourself in healthy and loving ways which will carry over into recovery.
Breaking the cycle of addiction can be overwhelming, but a great, reliable, and understanding support system will both put you at ease and allow you the space to do the internal and external work required to have a successful recovery. Remember, you come first–and finding comfort in that will lead to a strengthened confidence and resiliency as you exit treatment.
Support through treatment and recovery is essential to your success–but should bolster the work you do within. Alta Mira knows this and provides individualized treatment options to fit your needs as well as group and family therapies to supplement and motivate. If you or someone you know is in need of treatment or support, contact us today.