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The Positive Benefits of Families Supporting Families

Families can help one another as their loved ones face challenges due to addiction or other problematic behaviors. When we look at recovery, we have to remember that fixing the person with the issue does not heal the entire family system. Parents might struggle with their emotions surrounding the problems occurring at home. Siblings can be impacted by the behaviors of the child of concern. The emotional weight of having a family member displaying behaviors that can lead to harm can be challenging to manage on our own.

Connecting With Others

Family support in recovery can help you connect with others who have been through similar struggles. When we face challenges that most other people within our “orbit” do not have, we can feel alone. We might believe that we are the only ones with our set of problems and that no one can relate. Shame, guilt, anger, and other negative emotions can prevent us from dealing with our issues.

Finding Our Tribe 

When we find our “tribe” or people with a similar set of issues, we can fulfill our sense of belonging. Belonging to a group or feeling a sense of camaraderie in recovery can help both kids and families through the process of healing. When surrounded by people with similar issues or experiences, we feel validated in our pain and struggles. Connecting with family in a supportive way can help us heal our families and give us a sense of hope for a brighter future.

The “Dos” and “Don’ts” of Peer Support

“Peer support” is not exclusive to those in recovery. Families can find peers by connecting with others during coaching sessions or parenting workshops. When meeting other families, parents and siblings can feel relieved, knowing that they are not alone in their struggles. 

During a conversation with Fire Mountain co-founder Aaron Huey, Robin Pinard discusses the “dos and don’ts” of peer support for families:

Do:
  • Use active listening skills
  • Express empathy
  • Share similar and relatable stories
  • Ask questions
  • Encourage the person in their self-care
  • Recommend other resources (books, podcasts, blogs)
  • Set boundaries with others
Don’t:
  • Give legal, medical, or treatment advice
    • However, you might have some helpful resources to share!
    • Share resources, but let people find their answers and solutions.
  • Do not act like a “counselor”
    • You can share experiences about counseling or other therapies.
    • Essentially, listen to the other person without giving advice.

The Value of Shared Experience

Sharing experiences and validating others can benefit those seeking support. When we share our stories, we can let go of shame. We can also open up about what we are feeling. Families can be underserved during the recovery process. Often, the attention goes to the person with significant issues, like addiction or self-harm. Yet, families can go through several emotions as they watch someone they care about endanger themselves. 

By sharing these experiences with others, we can feel relieved by “getting things off our chest.” Listening to the stories of others can also inspire us to make changes. We might hear a valuable skill that we can apply to our lives. We might also share something that motivates another person to make changes or offer useful recommendations to improve others’ lives.

Ridding Ourselves of Shame

Families might blame themselves for the issues going on with their loved ones in recovery. Usually, parents question themselves most harshly; however, siblings can also feel they are contributing to the problems. When families blame themselves, they experience shame. Fearing judgment or blame, they might hold back from discussing their lives with others. Ridding ourselves of shame requires us to be vulnerable. We need to share our experiences without fear of judgment. 

By surrounding ourselves with others sharing similar issues, we can feel much more comfortable discussing our issues. As we open up, we can find solutions to our problems. Once we realize that these are not problems that are only happening to us, we can regain a sense of hope as we help our loved ones through recovery.

The wisdom of sharing lived experience can enhance other forms of therapy or counseling that we already utilize. As we collectively embark on guiding our kids through recovery, we can feel supported by others. When we come together as a group, we become stronger as a whole community. 

You might feel apprehensive about opening up to others. Take some time to listen and hear another person mirror your experiences. Remember that you are not alone in your struggles. Others can help and support you through this challenging time!

Family support can be valuable when we have a child struggling with addiction or other problematic behaviors. We might feel shame or guilt about the issues within our home. We might feel alone in our struggles and unsure of where to go. Treatment facilities are beginning to embrace the idea that healing families is crucial to supporting individuals in recovery. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center reminds you that you are not alone. During our parenting weekends, you might hear a family share similar stories of their child’s behaviors. When you hear another person share their experiences, you can feel less alone in your struggles. Success stories can also help you feel hopeful about your child’s recovery. You might even inspire others in their struggles. There is a community of support available to help you during these challenges. Call Fire Mountain today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to make your family’s fire burn brightest!

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