Addicts tend to affect the people around them with their addictive behavior, and those people can include co-workers, friends and families. As an addict begins recovery, the family is an important and supportive part of that process. So what can the family do to improve the odds of the addict’s recovery? Clearly education is critical, because the family must understand the recovery process and the challenges it will present to the addict as well as to the family as a group. Family counseling can also be useful in this regard, because each member of the family will be affected by the ongoing process of recovery.

Family members should focus on their own physical and emotional health, in order to successfully support the recovering addict. Each person should maintain their primary focus on themselves. It can be just as easy to get obsessed with the recovery of an addict as it was to obsess with the use when s/he was using. Constantly looking for clues of relapse, and waiting for the addict to screw up again, will only harm the recovery. While it’s true that trust is earned, we can easily push the addict back into old patterns of addictive behavior if we’re still clinging to resentment and inflicting punishment for past mistakes. Counseling, both for individuals and for the family as a unit, is often invaluable in helping to avoid these pitfalls.

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