How You Can Draw on a Family History of Recovery

How You Can Draw on a Family History of Recovery

While it is certainly true that drug abuse and addiction can tend to run in families, it is also true that individual family members can draw on a family history of recovery when they decide to get clean. Social dynamics are a powerful influence on human behavior and the family unit is one of the most powerful social groupings a person can experience. Becoming mindful of the negative influences your family may have on you is a critical step in the recovery process. Embracing the positive sobriety support that may be available in your family is important as well.

Addiction in Families

While anyone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol, the majority of addicts come from a family with a history of substance abuse or mental health issues. Families tend to influence members’ substance abuse in the following two ways:

  • Certain aspects of addiction have a genetic component that can be passed down from parent to child
  • Children tend to develop the habits of their parents through behavioral learning

Hereditary issues may affect the way the addict’s brain responds to both naturally occurring and artificially introduced “feel good” substances. Some people are born with a biological predisposition toward addiction. The first time they experience the euphoria produced through abusing a substance like marijuana their brains will desperately crave it and will use every emotional and psychological tool to keep it coming. This is especially problematic for people suffering from any of the following emotional issues:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Impulse control disorder
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Low self-esteem

When the brain of a person struggling with these types of disorders experiences the temporary relief offered by drugs or alcohol it won’t forget it. In fact, new neural pathways are built in the prefrontal lobe of the brain in order to reinforce this behavior. Many people with a biological predisposition toward addiction find themselves hooked the first time they use an intoxicating substance.

Even those with no genetic proclivity toward dependence can be pushed toward substance abuse by watching how their parents and other family members deal with stress, anxiety, or even just boredom. The young person who watches his father come home every evening and “unwind” with a few drinks will learn that behavior. The young woman who sees her older sister smoke marijuana every time she wants to have fun will associate getting high with a good time. Most learning is a combination of experimentation and imitation.

The Importance of Family Support in Recovery

As is the case with substance abuse and addiction, recovery can be learned within the context of family. Most families with a history of chemical dependence have at least one or two members who have successfully overcome addiction. Finding these people, sharing your struggles with them, and inviting them to help you beat this disease can help them as much as it helps you. Family support offers the following very personal and powerful benefits:

  • Few people know you the way your family knows you
  • Family members share a common history
  • Your recovering family members care a great deal for you and it will mean a lot for them to help you in your battle with addiction
  • Sober family members are simply a bit farther down the same path you are beginning to walk

While it’s true that you alone must work out your own recovery, the moral and emotional support of family members can be invaluable in the process. Many families have transformed from communities of abuse into communities of health and wellness.

Alternative Recovery Families

If your biological family does not offer you much in the way of recovery support you can find many of the most powerful support tools in the following examples of alternative families:

  • 12-Step groups
  • Recovery communities
  • Workplace accountability groups
  • Recovery programs within church communities

While biological families are important, there are many other expressions of community available to you. If you feel alone in your recovery from marijuana abuse, call our toll-free helpline right now for free, no-strings-attached, confidential advice and access to various types of recovery support. You are not in this alone, even if it feels that way sometimes.

Helping Your Family Help Your Recovery

One of the strongest benefits of high-quality rehabilitation and recovery programs is the way they can help you learn to engage your family throughout your recovery process. The following are a few key ways for you to help your family help you on your journey to sobriety:

  • Share your story openly and honestly without blaming anyone else for your mistakes
  • Ask for forgiveness from anyone you have hurt
  • Focus on your own recovery and do not attempt to “fix” your family members
  • Take your recovery one day at a time with an eye to the future
  • Do not fixate on the pain of the past
  • Ask for the support of your family members and loved ones

Addiction recovery is a challenging process, but with the right help you can do it. Call our helpline right now to be connected to the most effective recovery resources available. From family counseling to residential rehab, we have you covered. If you have a biological family with a history of recovery we can help you tap into that experience and care. If you lack a recovery-minded family we can help you find a recovery community to adopt. Wherever you are in the process, we are here to help. Call now.