Moving Past Keeping Family Secrets
Families can be the most influential group of people throughout a person’s life and recovery journey. They can create loving, supportive environments filled with care and understanding, and may even see a person’s interests and identity behind the addiction. Family members are often in the unique position of seeing a person both before and after addiction may have developed and can see each individual for the person they are beyond the disease. However, talking to one’s family about their own substance use can be an incredibly difficult thing to do and family secrets may become prevalent and can compromise the atmosphere of the home as a whole. Moving past keeping these secrets and developing a relationship based on openness and honesty can be difficult, but it can also be a driving force that encourages each person to continue reaching towards their next phase of recovery.
Overcoming a Heavy Atmosphere
A household where a family member is suffering from addiction can have an incredibly dense air to it and the secrets of a person’s use of drugs or alcohol can make even normal conversations feel heavy. Those suffering from addiction may be hiding drugs or alcohol around the house or walling themselves off from others in order to try to deal with the problem by themselves. Family members may feel as if they have to tip-toe around the house and mind their words in order to avoid angering someone else, especially the person suffering from addiction. This constant pressure can be mentally and emotionally exhausting for everyone involved and can drive a wedge between people, leading to distrust, frustration, anger, or resentment.
Keeping secrets from one’s family can facilitate these walls, and create an environment that is simply stressful to be in. Adding more stress to a person who is already suffering from addiction can lead them to more often seek the release of drugs or alcohol, and overall create a cyclic nature where someone is ashamed of their use but continues to use because of the stress of their environment.
Keeping secrets from family members, whether it is about one’s own substance use or that of a loved one, can have far-reaching effects that stretch beyond the confines of a single household. Children growing up in an environment where addiction is a secret may begin to normalize the effects of addiction and may not be able to identify problematic substance use in their own friends, social circles, or romantic interests in the future. Addiction itself also carries a genetic component and keeping one’s addiction a secret may leave children at an increased risk of developing an addiction themselves and not knowing the full risks involved with drugs or alcohol, especially how it relates to their personal circumstances.
Overcoming Shame and Addressing the Family Dynamic
Shame is one of the greatest hurdles that anyone can face through their journey to sobriety. It can be a difficult, humbling experience to come to terms with the mistakes that a person may have made or the consequences of substance use disorder. However, confronting any feelings of shame or guilt that may be present due to addiction is an important step for beginning to change the family dynamic from one that is toxic to one that is supportive and empowering. Having a conversation and acknowledging that there is a problem that needs to be addressed can change an atmosphere from tense and stressful to an atmosphere of hope. These discussions don’t mean that any person has to have all the answers on how to address addiction nor does it mean that a person needs to distance themselves from the family in order to “protect” them. It is simply a conversation that can open the way for further dialogue as each family member looks at the next steps possible towards a better future.
Families on the Front Lines
Families are typically the first people who notice a change in a person, both in the development of addiction as well as in the effects of recovery. They are a massively influential force that can affect one’s day-to-day life, create effective recovery environments, and provide unconditional, loving support to help a person recovering from substance use disorder. Starting recovery by letting go of these family secrets and creating a unified front focused on support and love can be an invaluable asset to each person’s continued sobriety. Acknowledgment is the first step towards honesty and mending relationships and letting go of these secrets can be the first step towards creating a new, forward-looking family dynamic.
Families are an important part of the recovery process. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction and are ready to take the first step towards a sober future together, Brighton Recovery Center can help you begin your journey to sobriety as a unified front. Professionals can work alongside you to determine the right level of care based on your needs and goals, such as detox treatment, sober living, and intensive outpatient programs, which are all supplemented with our family program to keep each person’s family unit together and unified against addiction. Our extensive campus provides an accepting, calming atmosphere for you to explore any number of therapeutic approaches that may be pertinent to your interests in recovery and beyond. For more information on the various ways that we can personalize your recovery plan and incorporate your important, loving family members or to talk to a caring, trained professional about your unique situation, call us today at (844) 479-7035.
Check out our recovery channel on YouTube