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How to Support a Family Member in Treatment


A father is being hugged by his son while sitting under a tree. The father is wearing a blue plaid shirt and jeans, and has short black hair. The song is wearing a jean jacket and jeans, and has short black hair.


Loving someone who struggles with mental health or substance use disorders can feel like a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs and a lack of control. While you may feel hopeful if that person makes the brave choice to seek treatment, it’s only the first step in a long and often winding path. Though recovery is ultimately in the hands of the individual, you can play an important role in helping your loved one achieve success by providing empathy and critical support.


How can you help?

When supporting a loved one in treatment, the most important thing you can do is simply show up for them in whatever capacity you’re able. For some, it means being a compassionate listener willing to sit with them in their feelings. For others, it can involve more practical support, such as offering childcare or managing household tasks that help alleviate stressors and allow them to focus on recovery. If you’re comfortable, attending family counseling sessions or support groups with them can provide invaluable encouragement in a vulnerable environment, and opening up about your own struggles can help your loved one feel less alone. Regardless of what you choose to do, your presence can serve as the hopeful beacon that aids them in navigating their struggles.


Another helpful step is to educate yourself about your loved one’s condition. While it can be hard to set aside complicated emotions and memories of the past, it’s important to show your loved one compassion by learning more about the clinical side of their behaviors and tendencies that may have led to their darkest moments. Plus, by understanding more about what they’re going through, you’ll be better equipped to aid in offering healthy solutions to aid in their recovery. In doing so, you can play a more active role in their recovery by encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and identifying and minimizing triggers that could serve as stumbling blocks.


Your compassion can extend to offering understanding of your loved ones’ mistakes, both past and future. The recovery process is not always linear, and relapses are common. While it can be frustrating to watch as setbacks occur in a person’s recovery, your unconditional support can provide your loved one with the hope to carry on.


Don’t forget about yourself

It can be mentally and physically taxing to care for someone who is struggling. On one hand, you may feel the urge to exhaust every avenue at your disposal to help that person achieve recovery. On the other hand, those efforts can seem fruitless: you can’t control what they do, no matter how much you’d give to take it on yourself.


While your support is crucial, remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. It is important to establish healthy boundaries with your loved one, aimed to avoid triggers that may cause you to relive painful memories. Take time for self care activities that bring you peace and joy, especially if you start to feel like it’s all becoming too much to bear. It’s okay to need time for yourself to help gain perspective about why you’re doing this: to achieve a healthier future for both your loved one and you to enjoy.


What family-centric services does CTI-OK offer?

The good news is you don’t have to go through this situation alone. Assisting your loved one in seeking professional help means they are building out a support system beyond just you, which is critical for helping to reduce the risk of caregiver burnout.


At CTI-OK, we specialize in family-centric treatment designed with that person’s unique support network in mind. Our services include family and couples counseling, family preservation and reunification programs, as well as recovery and supportive housing and sober living. We provide support and space for entire families as they walk their recovery journeys, provided with the same empathy and compassion we’d want for our own loved ones.


Whether you or a loved one is struggling, we’re here to provide judgment-free support. To learn more about how we can help, visit CTI-OK.org.


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