So, the person you love graduated from treatment and received their serenity prayer coin. Your loved one has been away in treatment learning all there is to know about the disease of addiction. They’ve arrived home, so now what? What happens next? They’ve been encouraged to go to AA or NA meetings and aftercare, but the family members, what do they do? Ideally, while the loved one was in treatment, the family was advised to attend Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings and their own therapy to begin to understand the recovery process.
If family members choose not to attend these meetings, this is the same as the addict/ alcoholic not attending their meetings. They remain in denial and have few tools necessary to deal with the disease of addiction even after their loved one has appeared to clean up their act. What can family members do about the pain and hurt caused by the disease of addiction? Well, they can go to their own therapy and begin to focus on themselves. Therapy will help them to begin to develop a life without they’re over involvement in the life of the addict/alcoholic. Now, I’m not saying that Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings are for everyone, but people need to check them out first and find out if it is right for them.
Attend several meetings at different places, to see if it fits. If you had a bad experience in the past, leave it in the past and try again. Meetings last one hour. Can you sacrifice an hour? One of the things that might get in the way of somebody going to those meetings are feelings of secrecy and shame, many feel or say…
“I’m too ashamed to go to those meetings”; “I don’t want people to think that I wasn’t a good parent” “I don’t want people to think I wasn’t a good wife (or husband) because my loved one has a drug or alcohol problem.“ “I don’t want people to think bad about our family” Some people have an oversimplified understanding of what recovery is. “Why am I going to go to those meetings, that’s for crazy people, or for people with real problems, we’re fine” They forget how about how addiction affects their lives. They forget how they felt when they spent so much time trying to manage, control and fix the problem.
All these things keep family members away from meetings when, I think the exact opposite happens at those meetings. Once they take the risk and go they usually start to identify with others and see the value in sharing their story and understand that they are not alone, family members feel empowered through this kind of support. It’s important that you work through the fear and shame because the help they need is in those meetings. Sometimes if the shame and fear are not addressed you might act it out and undermine your loved ones recovery efforts. So as the society changes it’s less of a big deal letting someone know that you are a family member in recovery and that someone close to you “qualified you”.