November 7, 2014

The Importance of A Strong Support Network in Recovering from Addiction.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

“When we feel centered and safe within ourselves, we are capable of projecting ourselves in ways that enrich and support the healing and personal development of our friends, acquaintances, and family members.” – Deepak Chopra

Healing from addiction and addictive behaviours is very often seen as a solitary process. The person struggling is viewed as the one with the problem, who needs to halt his or her destructive habits. In reality, however, alcohol and drugs are true family issues with potentially damaging effects extending beyond the person in recovery and into the lives of loved ones. Destructive, compelling behaviours can upset the family structure and strain the social network, tearing apart those all-important bonds. Many studies show that social support systems can help overcome denial and the potential for relapse that can hinder an individual’s successful treatment. Because of this, therapists should view friends and family as valuable members of the treatment team.

Marc Galanter, M.D., Director, Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and Professor of Psychiatry, New York University Medical Center, uses the term “network therapy” to describe the treating of a person in addiction in concurrence with his or her social network. This protocol emphasizes the importance of caregiver support on the path to restoring balance.

A traditional therapeutic network consists of people who have a vested emotional interest in the recovering person’s wellbeing, such as a spouse or significant other, parents, children, friends, and colleagues. This support system can positively impact recovery, whether or not network members are directly involved in therapy themselves. However, research shows an even greater success rate when network members join their loved one on the path to wellness. Additionally, network members often find that they themselves benefit, when included in therapy sessions.

While some individuals seeking balance in their lives already have such support systems available to them, many people cannot point to such a network. Such individuals therefore need to learn to discover, experience, and practice accepting the love and support that may be waiting to embrace them. Often, people in addiction isolate themselves, and relationships are in turmoil. In such cases, one important goal of therapy can be to provide the recovering person with skills that will help to form a positive network of individuals who will bolster and champion a healthy lifestyle.

When a network is established, a therapist can engage with that support system in order to learn more about her client’s strengths, weaknesses, and destructive habits. For example, family, friends, and colleagues may offer important personal information about their loved one, and share incidents of relapse that the client may be unwilling to discuss. Through this process, the support network can be taught to look for clues surrounding lapses in abstinence, report back to the therapist, and help to create a plan on how the healing individual can make better choices to shape a brighter future.

Therapy can also provide family and friends with tools to communicate effectively with the person in treatment. For instance, those closest to the client may fear the idea of confronting him or her with what they see, because they are afraid of driving their loved one away. Learning how to address such sensitive issues is likely to benefit not only the individual on the path of healing, but the important people supporting them on that path as well.

Conscious, compassionate communication is very important on this journey, and involvement in a loved one’s therapy sessions helps network members learn how to keep vital lines of communication open in everyday settings. People often seek treatment because of the involvement and encouragement of family and friends, so learning how to keep that encouragement going in the face of potential pitfalls is an important component.

Engaging in therapy also helps the support system heal its own wounds. Drugs and alcohol not only impact the user, but also often impact those closest to that person. Family and friends in a recovering person’s network may have feelings of anger, guilt, distrust, resentment, or other emotions that in the long run only serve to eat away at the emotional health of the entire network. Such destructive emotions can also keep a network from being fully engaged in the therapy and recovery process by preventing those individuals from joining the therapist in helping a loved one to move forward.

Just as the stabilized person is at risk of relapse, so too, are the individuals in his or her therapeutic network. If tools learned through therapy are not continuously applied by friends and family in their daily lives, the network can easily fall back into habits that may have inadvertently enabled the person in his or her addiction. Involvement in the therapy process allows the support network to realize this potential for relapse and emotionally heal more quickly than without involvement. By engaging in the therapy process, the supporting individuals will likely find themselves in a better position to help the therapist aid the recovering individual over the long term.

Involvement is especially important when children are part of the journey. It is critical for young people to have help processing their emotions and dealing with any damage caused by their loved one’s unhealthy behaviours. It is just as imperative for children as it is for adults to be engaged in their own healing, which can serve to prevent an emotional relapse later in life. Therapy can teach youngsters how to manage their emotions related to their suffering loved one, promote healthy lines of communication, and also prevent that child from repeating the cycle of addiction. Rather than turning to destructive habits later in their lives, therapy can help children learn to manage the emotions they were exposed to early on in healthy ways.

The journey of healing for someone with an alcohol or drug addiction takes time, energy, resources, and patience. The impacted individual often requires professional assistance on an ongoing basis to maintain abstinence. A strong community of friends and family is an essential element in ensuring that a steady support system remain present. Being involved in a loved one’s recovery from the beginning through network therapy gives the supporting individuals tools to draw upon long after the initial therapy has concluded. And, when friends and family disengage from their own destructive feelings and fully engage emotionally in their loved one’s recovery, then true healing can begin.

Chopra Addiction and Wellness Center is committed to supporting guests in their recovery by offering resources to build and reinforce a strong support network. We provide guests with a family therapy session in addition to the regular therapy sessions offered. Family and friends are provided with an opportunity to learn about addiction and disorders, understand family systems, and how best to be supportive of loved ones in treatment. This can be the place for relationships to begin or continue to heal and emotions to begin to become acknowledged and expressed. Misunderstandings and confusions can be explored, thus strengthening the foundations for these relationships so they can continue to grow.

Learn more about Chopra Addiction and Wellness Center and how they
work with family & friends to assist guests in their process of recovery.

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  1. Nikolay Luckman

    Very Beautiful Picture

  2. Meredith May Cook

    Thank you for thinking of me!! We just started the 3principles and health realization with Joe Bailey. Best thing ever. Always looking for more!

  3. Armon Brooks

    Georgina Miller

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