Why is Family Involvement so Important in Recovery?
You might wonder why your family or loved ones should be involved in your treatment journey if you were the one using and drinking. Some clients think, “this is my problem, not theirs.” The truth is, we all belong to a group or family, and our actions affect others whether we believe it or not. You made the tough decision to get help, so why not let your family be a part of your journey too? Drug and alcohol use is not an isolated issue. It’s a family affair. Family involvement is very important in recovery!
Reasons Why Your Family Should Be Involved
- For healthy homeostasis of the group. This is a psychological term that can be compared to a thermostat. Think of it like a heater that is set to 72 degrees, but the room temperature goes below that. The heater then turns on to heat the room back to 72. Your family functions in a certain way before you go to treatment. During treatment, you will likely change. If your family does not also get treatment they may need, like the thermostat, family members will try to maintain the status quo. If the family changes together, the entire system changes how it operates.
- For all-around understanding. If your family does not understand why you drank or used substances, involving them in your treatment is the best way to help them understand. Your family might be overjoyed at first, and then fear might creep in (Ascher, 2018). Having your family be a part of your recovery journey from the beginning can help them learn how they can help you, and heal themselves too!
- To help you see your own blind spots. Your recovery process requires you to be really honest with yourself in order to move forward. What you believe to be true about yourself is the limitation to how honest you can be–and your family may be able to help you see around your own blind spots. This can ultimately help you make progress for lasting success.
- To know you have support and love to get through the tough times. Often, clients may feel alone in their recovery process. They may feel that they’re left to do all the work solo. Having family members involved in group therapy and support groups helps eliminate the feeling of isolation and increases the feeling that you’re all in this, moving forward together.
The Four R’s
A valuable family recovery exercise I have learned working in treatment is called the 4 Rs. Clients and family members have the opportunity to honestly and safely heal damaged relationships. This exercise can help families express things that have been left unsaid for years in a safe, supportive environment. So, what are the 4 Rs? Respect – Request – Regret – Responsibility. This exercise can be done in a group setting or in a family session with your therapist. Each family member lists three things for each “R” to each person participating in the exercise.
Example for a client to spouse:
- What I Respect about you– 1. your dedication to our family. 2. your willingness to stick by me. 3. that you listen to me.
- What I Request from you– 1. that you take care of yourself. 2. that you hold me accountable for my actions. 3. that you continue loving me.
- What I Regret – 1. hurting you and our family. 2. the tears and sleepless nights my behavior has caused you. 3. using our resources selfishly.
- What I take Responsibility for – 1. my actions and words. 2. my sobriety. 3. rebuilding a healthier relationship with you and our family.
Ask your therapist about completing the 4 Rs in a family session. You might be pleasantly surprised by your responses.
Centered Recovery Programs believes that family involvement is an essential and often overlooked aspect of treatment. Your family may also be struggling during your recovery. Don’t let the shame and guilt stop you from including your family in your recovery! Contact us today at 800.556.2966 to learn more about family recovery and Centered Recovery Programs.
By Susan Sanchez, MS Counseling
Ascher, M. (2018, January 11). Family relationships in early stages of substance use change. Psychology Today.
Bloom, L., & Bloom, C. (2017, January 25). 25 ways you can show respect to your partner. Psychology Today.