Many people who struggle with addictive behaviors have difficulty expressing or regulating emotions in a healthy and productive way. Treatment for SUD includes learning how to identify emotions and channel them into beneficial actions and outlets. Emotional stabilization is an important goal of many treatment services, including group, individual, and family therapy. Parents and guardians face unique challenges because the effects of substance misuse directly impact other members of their family. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “families of people in recovery may experience adversities in their social, occupational, and financial lives, as well as in their overall quality of family life.” Everyone has different experiences with how treatment and recovery affect their relationships. Parents need to learn how to model good emotional health while recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) to ensure their family heals.
How Recovery Effects Family Dynamics
The effect of recovery on family dynamics is often profound and far-reaching. Some families grow closer and use love and support to encourage positive change. The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) stated that “parents may feel overwhelming shame and guilt about how their substance use affects their children.” Making positive lifestyle changes is one way to overcome negative emotions. A few ways to avoid unhelpful guilt, shame, or regret associated with substance misuse include:
- Being honest and open about the realities of SUD
- Ensuring children understand they did nothing wrong
- Openly communicating about challenges you face
- Asking for forgiveness
- Practicing compassion and self-forgiveness
- Making a choice each day to remain sober and continue healing
- Being accountable to yourself and your family
Every individual has a choice about how they treat their family. Modeling positive behaviors for your children does not mean never making mistakes or ignoring the struggles you face in recovery. Honesty and open communication are essential parts of any healthy relationship, including acknowledging difficult moments.
Being a Positive Role Model
Being a positive role model can strengthen family bonds. According to research published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, “children of recovered alcoholics and matched controls rated their families as happier and more trusting, cohesive, secure and affectionate than children of families in which fathers still drank alcohol.” Children notice the difference in how their parents interact with and react to them when under the influence, and it can be devastating. Recovery presents an opportunity for parents to counteract some of the risks associated with substance misuse. Every day is an opportunity to be a positive role model for your children.
How Your Everyday Choices Affect Your Children
Children are directly affected by their parents. According to additional research published by SAMHSA, “children with a parent who has an SUD are more likely than children who do not have a parent with an SUD to have lower socioeconomic status and increased difficulties in academic and social settings and family functioning.” Some ways that parents can protect their children and create healthy home environments during recovery include:
- Setting and maintaining clear boundaries
- Using resources like community support and family therapy to open lines of communication
- Showing through actions that you love them
Every single person and relationship is unique. The things that work for one family may not work for another, which is why therapy and alternative therapies are essential tools. Seek treatment facilities that teach social skills and communication to encourage healthy family relationships.
Family Relationships and Responsibility
All parents have a responsibility to provide their children with a safe and loving environment where they can learn and grow. During treatment and recovery for substance use disorder, it can be challenging for some parents to know how to model healthy emotional behavior. Therapy, meetings, peer support, and sponsors or mentors offer solutions for maintaining emotional stability. Children may benefit from individual therapy or counseling sessions and peer support groups. Parents are responsible for ensuring the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of their children.
Moving From Guilt and Shame to Hope
Children of individuals recovering from substance misuse are less likely to develop mental health disorders or SUD if their parent completes treatment and maintains sobriety. Your choices today and tomorrow will directly affect your loved one’s psychological and physical health. You can use this as excellent motivation to maintain sobriety and overcome challenges.
Replace guilt and shame with hope for the future. By making the conscious choice to encourage positive emotions, you can be a role model for the most important people in your life. Parenthood comes with challenges and rewards. You have the opportunity to show your loved ones how to make healthier choices every day.
Research has shown that children of individuals who actively participate in substance misuse are more likely to develop addictive behaviors and mental health issues later in life. Every parent wants the best for their children. When something they do has the potential to harm their child, parents often work to lower those risks by making lifestyle changes. You might struggle with guilt or shame about introducing the effects of substance misuse into your children’s life. Substance misuse can have a long-lasting effect on multiple generations. Stop the cycle of harmful behaviors by showing your dedication and desire to heal from SUD. Sober Life uses therapy, skill development, and peer support to provide a healthy environment for change. You do not have to go through this alone. We can help you learn how to become a positive role model for your children. Find out more about our services by calling us today at (619) 542-9542.