One of the most difficult challenges for loved ones of addicts is surrendering to the process of recovery. For so long family and friends wait, pray, and hope for their loved one to somehow come out of addictive cycle, but after a period of waiting, realize that their loved one cannot beat their addiction alone.
As a counselor in a 12-step based program, I have observed that families who surrender to the process early on tend to have a better experience and see better results with their loved ones. We believe that genuine surrender happens in the context of a relationship with a Higher Power and paves the way for all the work needed to maintain a sober lifestyle. Although parents and friends may not work through all 12 steps personally, modelling surrender to the process of treatment is one of the first investments families can make.
This investment both encourages their loved one and becomes part of the healing process. We encourage all loved ones of our clients to attend Al Anon, a support group for family and friends of addicts. We also recognize that addiction is not an isolated issue, but rather a family issue. A common fear I see is “if my child does not feel comfortable, then he will not be invested in doing the work.” So often families allow their child to call the shots in treatment, which often enables the addictive behavior. As a counselor, I aim to help others identify and set boundaries to live fulfilling lives. For families, choosing to surrender to the process of recovery, and modeling it, is one of the most effective boundaries they can set for their child in treatment. Families that maintain the attitude of “I’m all in” tend to see better long term results and begin the treatment process by taking the first step to address the family issue of addiction. So often, we hope to see surrender in the addict, but before that process begins, we must model it as one of the greatest acts of love.
Lindsey Stanley, MA, LPC-Intern, LCDC, CSAT-C