When one of more of our family members is struggling with addiction, we are all affected and the negative impacts extend to all of us. We perpetuate toxic patterns of enabling, denying and exacerbating each other’s addictions. We are all hurt by the negative consequences, the arrests, accidents, abuse and self-harm. To feed our addiction, we lie, steal, cheat and manipulate, and usually it is our loved ones on the receiving end. How can we heal as a family when addiction has torn us apart?
With substance abuse, we don’t just abuse our drugs and behaviors of choice. We also abuse ourselves and each other. When healing from addiction, we have to deal with the severe mistrust that has grown between us. There are multiple layers of issues to unpack, and to get through all of them, we have to learn how to have effective communication with each other. To reconnect with one another, there are some simple but key values to maintain – honesty, compassion and resolution. If we’re going to move forward in the aftermath of the devastation of addiction, we’re going to have to commit to being totally honest with one another. Dishonesty is often a coping mechanism for us, and a way to cover our tracks, and if we want to heal as a family, we have to shed the behaviors that tore us apart. Without honesty, we can’t have trust.
Resolving conflict means striving to understand the other person’s perspective as much as we’re trying to communicate our own. Our instinct is to want to be heard and validated. We want to make our points clear. We can be so focused on our opinions and feelings that we fail to have compassion for the other person. We fail to listen. This kind of disconnection only separates us more. We can’t get to the root of our pain. We can’t have true forgiveness.
Our goal when we’re healing as a family should be resolution. We often default to patterns of blaming each other, pointing the finger and denying our role in the problem. Instead of needing to prove we’re right, we can instead focus on how we can come to a peaceful resolution together. We can all take responsibility for the different ways in which we have contributed to this family issue. We can lovingly express our thoughts, including our anger, with resolution as the focus.
Rebuilding trust, healing broken attachments, and learning how to communicate with one another are so important for healing and reconnecting as a family when addiction has separated us.
Our weekly family therapy sessions and monthly family workshops can help you and your family work to heal from addiction, together. Call Riverside Recovery today: (800) 871-5440.