By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC
Timing is everything…especially when it comes to addiction treatment and recovery. When an individual with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is able to acknowledge that they need help and is willing to take the necessary steps to get sober, it is important that social, clinical and financial/insurance resources are immediately accessible. However, not everyone in that personl’s life may be ready to make the changes necessary to accommodate their loved one’s sobriety for a variety of reasons.
Change can present a threat to the status quo for families and other relationships when an individual gets sober. It can be rare that the individual with an SUD and their loved one’s readiness and willingness to change are synchronized. Some may believe that their loved one needs to get “help” and that they can continue to either use substances and/or behave the same way towards them. Others may overcompensate and not allow their loved one to have their own sobriety experience.
Individuals with SUD and their loved ones each have unique recovery process goals and challenges. Many do not realize that the family/friendship system surrounding them also needs to make many changes as well. Both can work simultaneously and grow alongside each other. More often, individuals and their loved ones may engage in the recovery process at different paces.
The following are some of the actions that loved ones can take for their own recovery process:
- Attend individual and family therapy
- Attending Al-Anon/Nar-Anon
- Read/learn about the recovery process
- Engage in conversations with their loved one about how best to support them
- Show interest and support of their loved one
- Learning how to set and accept boundaries that their loved one may need
- How best to adapt social events and family gatherings
- Not taking their loved one’s changes personally
- Stop drinking and/or using substances for at least 90 days not matter what their loved one’s drug of choice may be
The In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) Model is unique in that there is both a Care Team provided for the client and a Family Wellness team to support their loved ones. The comprehensive nature of this model is able to treat the entire family system, even when they are in different stages of readiness to change. The Family Wellness team is able to guide the family and loved ones in engaging in the above recommendations and to create emotional space for the client to focus on their own recovery process. The IHAT Institute is training healthcare professionals to administer this innovative treatment model, which is crucial given that the need for SUD treatment has increased exponentially during the pandemic.