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How Family Can Help During Recovery

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — September 1, 2021 — 4 min read
Family can be a defining factor to a successful recovery. Even if they can’t directly assist, they can be a motivator. We spoke to two women, Pamela Goodine and Jeanette Williamson, about their family’s role during their recovery process. Both admitted that their family’s support was vital. They shared advice for how to support a recovering family member.

Don’t Try to Force Recovery

Both women made the decision to get clean themselves. Their families were supportive, but they needed to be ready and committed. Goodine explained, “We can’t fix anybody. Nobody can fix us. We have to take the responsibility to fix ourselves.” Williamson also believes that recovery works best when it is a personal choice. The chances of failure are higher if the person is doing it for someone else. They need to recover for their own reasons in order to be successful long-term.

If you think a family member needs help treating their addiction, try:
  • Starting genuine conversations about their addiction
  • Showing concern rather than blaming
  • Sharing recovery resources
  • Asking if they need help

Understand That Recovery Looks Different for Everyone

Both Goodine and Williamson took a different approach to recovery. Goodine was able to recover at home. She set boundaries and used outpatient services. Therapy and support groups worked best for her. However, Williamson found more success in a residential facility, God Did It Recovery Home for Women. She battled with her addiction for 27 ½ years before recovering. For her, it was impossible to get clean off a short-term detox or in her own environment. She needed longer-term care away from bad influences. Both have been able to stay sober for over a decade.

This shows that different programs work for different people. Help your family members find what fits their  needs. Don’t give up on them because they failed in one program or relapsed. It’s common to not recover on the first try. It may take a while to find what works best for them.
Need Mental Health Help Fast?

Call **ASK (star-star-2-7-5) from your cell phone or 1-800-939-5911.

Show Support During Recovery

Every recovery journey is different. Therefore, everyone will need support in different ways. It’s important to maintain a presence in their life during recovery. Even if you don’t have direct contact, there are ways to show you care.

You can show support by:
  • Not bringing up past mistakes
  • Using positive language
  • Not using substances around someone recovering
  • Providing child care
  • Providing transportation
  • Praying
Goodine and Williamson were most thankful for family who could help care for their children. This allowed them to focus on their recovery. Goodine pointed out that sometimes family is not just biological. It’s all the people you have relationships with. The support from her church made a huge impact on her recovery. Not only did they watch her children, but growing her faith helped her through recovery. She is now an ordained minister. She told us, “I'm just grateful to God how he took my misery and turned it into my ministry.”

Believe in Change

Both women believe that their recovery improved their family relationships. They became people that their families are proud of. Their sobriety helped them become more involved mothers. Both are now employed homeowners and mentor other people recovering. But they both had family members who were skeptical. Williamson’s mother even told her that she would never change. However, she did, and her mother finally noticed. She even chose her out of her five siblings to take care of her father before passing. Goodine’s grandmother was skeptical during her journey. But she saw the changes in Goodine. She and Goodine’s brother both said they were proud of her before they passed.

It’s important to believe that your family members can recover. Don’t hold grudges against them for what they have done in the past. It is possible to overcome addiction. Offer words of encouragement, even if there are setbacks. As Williamson said, “Change is going to come. You just got to show love in spite of some things.”

Recovery is a Process

Recovery is not something that happens overnight. Addiction is a disease and takes consistent effort to overcome. Both women attempted treatment several times before finding success. Even though they have been sober for years, it still takes effort. Goodine said, “I am recovering on a day-to-day basis. I’ve been drug and alcohol free for over 13 years. But each day, I’m faced with taking responsibility to make the right choices in my life.” It’s important to continue to show support. Not just in the early stages, but as long as they need it.

Be Compassionate

Williamson shared this quote: “We can’t heal the world today, but we can begin with a voice of compassion, a heart of compassion, and an act of compassion.” Let’s be compassionate to those struggling with addiction. Let’s build them up instead of tearing them down. Family or not, we can all show support to others.
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