• Nicole Arzt

What If Your Family Isn't Supportive Of Recovery?




Let's be real. You've worked so hard to get to where you are today.


After struggling with the perils of addiction, recovery might be the hardest challenge you ever endure. Ideally, you would expect your loved ones to encourage and inspire you to keep moving forward. But what if your family isn't supportive of recovery? And in fact, what should you do if they actually make things worse?


Let's get into how you can take care of yourself, no matter who's in your corner.


Consider The Context

Many family members feel cautious when their loved one enters recovery. This hesitation and fear are especially true if you've had a past history of chronic relapse. Think about it. They're scared of trusting you- they're scared of feeling crushed if your positive streak doesn't last.


Addiction can profoundly sever trust within family dynamics. If you persistently stole, manipulated, or lied from loved ones, they may still feel angry or resentful with you. They might want to keep their space right now. This doesn't mean they aren't supportive- it just means they're protecting their integrity.


Consider the following guidelines if your family is being particularly cautious:

  • Listen and actively validate their emotions

  • Avoid jumping to conclusions about their opinions

  • Continue maintaining an open line of communication

  • Avoid defensiveness as much as possible

  • Ask them if they're willing to participate in family therapy

  • Be reliable and honor any commitments you make to them

Remember that trust can take time. It's reasonable for your family to feel uncertain about how they want to move forward with your relationship.


Express Your Needs

Sometimes, family members want to help, but they're terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing. As a result, they start acting strangely or aloof around you.


Let them know how they can support your recovery. Maybe it's asking if they're willing to check in on you a few times a week to see how you're doing. Perhaps it's going to a meeting with you if you feel nervous about going alone.


Of course, they aren't obligated to do anything for you. But if someone asks how they can be there for you, be explicit! The more specific details you can provide, the better.


Establish New Routines Together

If the dynamics have always been tense, it might be time to reevaluate how you spend time with your loved ones. Sometimes, a change in scenery or type of communication can make a profound difference.


For example, if you always go to their place for dinner, consider meeting at a restaurant the next time. If you text throughout the day, try scheduling a structured phone call once or twice a week to formally catch up. If you usually spend time with both your parents, ask if one of them wants to have some individual time with you.


At first, changing the status quo may feel odd. But recovery is full of changes, and your family dynamics may just need a slight update.


Love From A Safe Distance

If your loved ones are actively abusing drugs or alcohol, their actions can be undoubtedly triggering. You might feel any variation of fear, anger, or sadness. You might also feel an enormous pressure to rescue them from their battle with addiction.


These reactions are normal. You care about your family, and you don't want to see people you love suffering. It makes complete sense if you want to jump in to help.


Keep in mind that your recovery needs to come first. If you don't prioritize this need above everything else, you risk jeopardizing your health and safety.


Loving from a distance can mean:

  • setting healthy boundaries that limit or reduce triggering situations

  • avoiding any enabling behavior

  • aiming to be accepting of your loved one's situation

  • supporting them in their recovery goals

Build A Healthy Support System

Surround yourself with people who will motivate, inspire, and support you throughout your recovery. You can't go at this alone. Moreover, relationships make the process more meaningful. Without drugs or alcohol, you can be more present and engaged with others.


Your support system can include anyone: extended family members, friends, sober coaches, sponsors, therapists, roommates. These people should be aware of your recovery needs. They should also be willing to support you if you're going through a difficult time.


Coping When Your Family Isn't Supportive of Your Recovery

Family dynamics are tricky, and recovery can exacerbate that stress. If your family isn't supportive of your recovery, you may feel especially lonely, resentful, or insecure.


Remember that change often emerges from small steps. Focus on what's in your control. Take care of yourself. Continue being patient and tolerant of their needs and feelings.


At The Resurface Group, we help families restore trust, improve communication, and learn how to support one another. We are here for you and your loved ones. Contact us today to get started!


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Orange County Addiction Recovery • 2900 Bristol St Suite 320, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 • Main (509) 319-0845

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