Does My Family Need to Know I Am an Alcoholic?
You may think your family is unaware of your alcoholism and that may be true, especially if you are a high functioning alcoholic. Depending upon the level of time you spend with your family and their views on alcohol consumption, it is possible no one has any idea that you are grappling with an addiction.
Now that you have come to accept that you are an alcoholic, you might be concerned about alerting your family. If they don’t know, why do they need to? Well, accepting that you have a problem is only the first step. The next is to work on recovering from that alcoholism and you will need to do that in professional, structured treatment for your substance use disorder.
Once you look into treatment, you will begin to understand the role that family plays in treatment, where family therapy and formation of a support community are key components. The degree to which you can include your family will depend upon your relationship with them, obviously. But, keeping them out entirely may undermine your recovery.
It is important that you be clear about how you define family, maintain your awareness of your current relationships, remain focused on your recovery and everything you need to do to work toward it.
Your recovery will depend upon a supportive treatment environment and our admissions coordinators can help you find a program that will meet your needs. They can answer questions, link you to resources, and direct you to treatment. However, they can’t find you another family, so you have to figure that out on your own. Call us at 800-683-3270 to get started on your recovery.
What Is Family?
Before you begin looking at specific family members and trying to determine whether or not they deserve to be included in your treatment and recovery process, you should consider how you define family.
Family doesn’t have a single, clear definition that applies to all people. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, cultures and belief systems play a huge role in defining family. When you shift from one culture to another or from one belief system to another, the definition of family changes.
It is good to remember how flexible the idea of family is because you may find that the people you are closest to, your “family” are already included in your recovery journey, you just aren’t calling them that yet.
The only true marker of family is emotional bond. The people you consider family will always remain connected to you and they will participate in the functioning of your family. For instance, your “family” will support you during recovery because they want to.
So, when you talk about telling your family, really think about what you mean by family. Cousin George might be blood relative, but you probably think of your best friend as more of a family member than him. You don’t need to tell extended relatives and people who don’t participate in your life, but excluding true family (those bonded participating people) will put you at a disadvantage in recovery.
Most treatment programs incorporate therapy in a few forms, and family therapy is a mainstay.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, family therapy addresses “not only substance use problems but other co-occurring problems as well, such as conduct disorders, child mistreatment, depression, family conflict, and unemployment.”
The thinking behind family therapy is that a dysfunctional family system leads to dysfunctional behavior, and any change in one family member will lead to changes for other members of the system. Your alcohol rehabilitation will have an impact on your family, even if you don’t tell them.
If you involve family in your therapy, the counselor can help all of you, collectively, work on improving your family function. You can all work together to define goals and create plans for reaching them. It will help all of you.
If your family members are abusing alcohol themselves or contribute to your alcoholism and you know that they won’t help with your rehab, you don’t need to keep them involved. Above all, you need to stay safe and put yourself in the best position for recovery.
You know what will work best in your situation. But, your treatment can be enhanced by keeping the people you think of as family close and involved in therapy. For more treatment planning information and recommendations of treatment centers, call us at 800-683-3270.