A teen with a single mom who works full-time and is dealing with medical issues. A doctor with a wife and three children at home who are supportive and completely depend on him. A widowed grandmother whose children live out of state. A college sophomore who lives at home with both parents. A child with six siblings is raised by their father and girlfriend.
Each of these individuals has a diverse home environment, level of support, and degree of responsibility. In regard to their recovery, each of them will have various treatment options and a different probability of success. Each person has the potential to recover, though they may face different obstacles along the way. The impact of their family dynamics will directly affect their path and success in recovery.
Family Dynamics and Success in Recovery
Someone who comes home to a parent or spouse who is drinking or using drugs will likely have a far more difficult time in recovery than someone who’s living in a sober setting around like-minded individuals in recovery. One of the most significant changes that are made in recovery to prevent relapse is to change “people, places, and things.”
This means that those in recovery don’t spend most of their time with the people that they used to drink or use with. They also don’t spend most of their time in places associated with their addiction or participate in activities related to their addiction. Avoiding and knowing how to handle these triggers is a critical factor in a successful recovery.
However, when an individual in recovery lives with people that used and continue to use, this can lead to significant struggle. They may begin to play into the thoughts of “It might be okay if I have one drink,” “If they can, so can I,” and “Only this one time, no one will know.”
On the other hand, another person in recovery may live with a family where both parents are supportive of their recovery. Their friends and loved ones model healthy choices. With family dynamics such as these, individuals can more easily avoid triggers. They also have others in their life ready to listen and provide support, significantly improving their chances of maintaining sobriety.
Identify the Impact of Family Dynamics
When trying to identify the impact of family dynamics on an individual’s personal experience, journaling can be useful. A person can reflect on the following through journaling:
- Who they live with
- Their feelings about their relationship with each person
- Who they consider being their biggest cheerleaders
- Who may seem to impact their decision-making
- Who they may feel triggered around,
- Who they feel they can be the most honest with
- Identifying how these relationships and feelings impact their recovery
Individuals may find that when they are with their cousins, they struggle with memories of using. Or they may find that their sibling’s lack of support for their sobriety creates negative feelings.
Whatever a person discovers about their family dynamics can be discussed with a therapist, sponsor, or mentor. They may be advised to distance themselves from certain family members until they are more confident in their sobriety. Or they may be walked through the process of creating boundaries.
Discussing feelings and being honest about triggers within family dynamics can help those in recovery develop the skills to deal with situations that will eventually arise. Others who understand the impact of family dynamics on recovery can help individuals determine the best way to handle their situation.
Positive and Negative Family Dynamics
What may seem like “the perfect family” for one person could be considered “the worst” for another. Some people grow up in a home that struggles to make ends meet, while others could want for nothing. Neither situation is more likely to have provided a family with more or less love, values, acceptance, or beautiful experiences.
But what does have a significant impact is how the family speaks to the individual in recovery. Were love and respect modeled by adults in the home? Did the children feel safe, cared for, and appreciated? The relationships within the home are what will have the most significant influence on how resilient someone is in their recovery.
How someone views their family dynamics will also affect their success in recovery. For example, a widowed woman lives alone. She doesn’t have any local family support. This could positively or negatively influence her recovery success depending on how she moved forward.
She would need to be open with others in and out of treatment. By doing this, she can make strong connections within her recovery community to ensure she has the support of others. Just because she doesn’t have family support nearby does not mean she is doomed for success. She may love her hobbies, stay busy with her church, and enjoy her time of solitude.
Every person holds a different perspective on their family life. How an individual feels about their connections with others, how many relationships they hold near to their heart, and how they feel about themselves in the dynamic will influence their recovery experience.
What is important to remember is to have someone to be honest with. Someone who will listen and respect their feelings and offer insight when needed. When an individual surrounds themselves with relationships that are positive and sets healthy boundaries, they will find healing and establish a beautiful foundation for recovery.
Family dynamics can directly impact the success of your recovery. The support system at home, the relationships you have, your experiences, and your family history all play a part in recovery. Luckily, there are ways to cope with family trauma, nurture healthy relationships, and shape existing relationships. Learning to set healthy boundaries and to identify positive versus toxic relationships will strengthen your foundation for a stable recovery. Your past does not define you, but it does affect you. Learn tools to embrace relationships and gain new experiences. Destiny Recovery Center is ready to help you build a successful foundation for recovery that includes relationship building. For more information on treatment with Destiny Recovery Center, call (909) 413-4304.