The Importance of Family Involvement in Recovery

family involvement in recovery

One of the most important things for families to do when a loved one gets sober is to encourage family involvement in recovery. When a family member or loved one is in a drug or alcohol treatment or rehabilitation center, there are many things the family can do to start supporting their addicted loved one.  It is important for the family to first understand that their loved one is in good hands with a staff of highly trained professionals. The addicted family member will receive all the necessary education, group therapy, individual counseling, and medical care to get the help he or she needs to address his or her substance abuse issues. 

While it is important to allow the professionals to do their job in counseling and therapy, family and friends can still be involved. Moreover, it’s helpful if families stay involved in their loved one’s recovery by supporting them and being there for them. The road to recovery is long and stressful. It is important that the addict or alcoholic has plenty of support from loved ones to continue on their journey. 

Organizing An Intervention

First, many people have a loved one who isn’t sober yet. They may wonder how they can help. Confronting an addict is difficult, but doing so as a group can help. Interventions can be helpful tools to approach the addict and open up a discussion about their addiction.[1] Designate a day and time for family and friends to get together for a meeting to discuss a plan of action on presenting rehab as an option to the addict.

Every member of the family should share their feelings and how they were directly affected by their loved one’s substance abuse. Through open discussion, a family can express their feelings of being angry, disappointed, frustrated, sad, or even depressed.  Having a family discussion will also help them address any concerns they have about the process. It also allows the addict a safe space to share any concerns they may have about entering into a rehab program. However, it’s important to only hold an intervention under the guidance of a professional interventionist. Addiction is a touchy topic – so having an expert moderator can help steer the conversation in the right direction.

All of this is helpful information for the family and will allow them to discuss possible solutions.  In addition, healthy boundaries can be put into place before their addicted family member returns home. As an alternative, some families may decide it would be best to seek the help of a professional and attend group or family counseling.

Family Therapy In Rehab

Some rehabilitation centers may extend an invitation for family members to visit the addict at the treatment center. They often encourage families to get involved in therapy with the addict.   Research has shown that family involvement during recovery and rehab actually aids the addict on the road to recovery. It’s also helpful in treating any co-occurring conditions the addict may be suffering from. [2] 

Family therapy sessions are typically conducted with the addict and one of the treatment center’s licensed therapists. At that time, the family can share their feelings, concerns, and ask any questions. The session is focused on support and education on how to help the addict during recovery. It also allows the therapist and the addict to address any misconceptions the family and friends may have about the recovery process. The counselor may provide additional resources as well as suggest that family members get involved with a support group such as Al-Anon.

Addiction touches many people, including families of addicts. Family therapy is a time for all parties to heal and learn how to support one another. The healthier the entire family is, the better off everyone will be.

Supporting an Addict During Continuing Sobriety

After leaving a treatment center, people experience a challenging transition period. After facing the many consequences of addiction during therapy in rehab, individuals are often emotionally vulnerable. This is a critical time for families to stay involved in their loved one’s recovery by showing unending support and love. Furthermore, it’s important that families don’t treat their loved one any differently than they normally would. Involving the addict in day to day activities will allow them to adjust to life after rehab and start to feel a part of the family again. 

Recovery is a lifelong process for an addict. It affects everyone involved in the addict’s life and is often very emotional. It is important that the addict feels accepted and loved. Keeping open communication during this time is very important for both the addict and the family. 

In the beginning, it will be a transitional phase for the family unit to feel comfortable.  During this phase, it will be helpful to discuss and to let go of any past resentments. Being open and willing to establish healthy boundaries will make the recovery process much easier. With patience, tolerance, love, and understanding, the family unit will be able to adjust to necessary changes.

Other Ideas to Encourage Family Involvement in Recovery

Following inpatient treatment, many individuals participate in a 12-step program. One thing family and friends can do is offer the loved one a ride or company to meetings. This promotes a sense of accountability while still allowing the addict a safe space away from home to discuss their struggles with addiction. Sometimes it is scary for the addict to go to a meeting alone. However, offering to go to an open meeting with them may help ease them into the program. In this case, it is important to listen during the meeting to better understanding the disease of addiction and continue supporting your loved one.

It is also important to recognize the addict may have to adjust their schedule to be able to go to meetings. Sometimes this means they miss out on a family event or even need to briefly leave a holiday dinner to get to their meetings. While this can be frustrating, it is important to remember meetings are crucial to an addict’s recovery. Putting their recovery first allows them to stay healthy and be present for family and friends. 

While it may be difficult for some people to forgive, it is important to understand that people behave differently in active addiction. Although the journey to recovery is long and arduous, family involvement in recovery can make it a successful one.



Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.