Support is crucial for success for both kids and families in recovery. Parents and alumni can join peer support groups to continue supporting one another and foster a feeling of hope. When we share our stories, we can inspire others. We might not realize who we are impacting by speaking up within a group meeting. Sometimes, all other people need to hear to change themselves is the story of another person’s success.
Benefits of Sharing for the Individual
Sharing can help parents and alumni “get things off their chest” about the recovery process. Sometimes, emotions weigh heavily upon us. By sharing our stories, we can get these feelings out into the world. Once emotions become “tangible” and spoken aloud, we can create separation between ourselves and what happened to us.
Sharing can also help us find validation. When going through the recovery journey, both parents and alumni can feel lonely. Our friends might not have similar issues within their families. When our kids struggle with addiction, depression, anxiety, cutting, or other issues, we might feel alienated from other families, who seem to have everything together in their lives. If we are alumni, many of our friends outside of treatment might not relate to our struggles. By opening up to others in supportive environments, we can feel less isolated in our journey.
Journaling: Sharing Alone
We can begin to “share” our stories by journaling. If speaking up during a support group is difficult for us, we can get our stories out by writing them down. Journaling can be practice for us if we feel overwhelmed during the early parts of recovery. By writing things out, we can get our emotions and thoughts out of our heads and symbolically put them into the world. The act of writing can be therapeutic. If we are not yet ready to share publicly, we can benefit from writing things out.
Sharing Benefits the Recovery Community
Besides benefiting ourselves by receiving validation for our struggles, sharing can offer inspiration to others. Often, parents and alumni can discuss treatment with others new to the process. They can alleviate some of their concerns or provide tips for success. The recovery community benefits when members support one another and share their experiences. While putting ourselves out there might be frightening, the more frequently we open up about recovery, the more we can reduce stigma and shame.
Many people remain burdened by their issues for lack of feeling like they “belong.” They might feel unique in their struggles or shameful about the problems within their family. Parents might think, “I’m just a bad parent” or “No one else deals with these problems.” Alumni might return home from treatment struggling to connect with friends due to differing experiences. They might relapse due to the alienating feelings of recovery.
By opening up during a support group, we help those struggling to get help themselves. The whole community benefits by each member being open and honest about their journey. Being vulnerable within a group can be challenging. However, the rewards benefit not only ourselves by “getting things off our chest.” We also create a safe and open space for others hesitant to get help for fear of judgment or isolation.
How Can I Connect to Other Families or Those in Recovery?
Many support groups are available for both families and those in recovery. Groups can range in terms of topics and philosophies. Some groups specialize in specific issues, such as:
- Eating disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
The type of groups above can be found in many communities. They can help both families and alumni develop coping skills within specific areas of their struggles.
Families and parents can find support in groups like Al-Anon and Alateen, which can help family members of those struggling with addiction. Parents and siblings can find sharing the stories of their experiences loving a person with an addiction to be powerfully therapeutic.
Alumni can find support within specific groups depending upon their issues (like the examples listed above). Alumni with addiction can find support groups geared specifically towards addiction, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or SMART Recovery.
Special Considerations for COVID-19
Many in-person support groups were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions. However, support groups shifted to online platforms and other means of operating under unique circumstances. For more information, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) listings of online support.
Sharing the story of your struggles in recovery within yourself or your family can help you find validation and support while inspiring others. You never know who is listening to what you are sharing. You might inspire someone else to make a change in their lives. Those in recovery or struggling to get help might feel less shameful about their issues by knowing that other people have “been in their shoes.” Connecting to support groups can occur before leaving active treatment and play a critical role in aftercare. Some groups can help a person find support for their lifetime in recovery. If you have a story to share, Fire Mountain Residential Treatment would like to hear from you! Fire Mountain co-founder and host of “Beyond Risk and Back” Aaron Huey invites families and alumni to share as guests during the podcast. For more information, call (303) 443-3343. You might ignite the fire of hope for someone else!