Family life is all about living together, and when a family member chooses sober living, the family can interact on a newly positive level.
- Family Members Who Know How to Communicate
When a person overcomes addiction, he learns many important things about himself. Just to get to the day-to-day sober life, a person must examine the reasons he wanted to take drugs or drink alcohol in the first place. There are many reasons behind substance abuse: boredom, worry, escape or anxiety according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). People who understand why they use substances can find ways to stop future urges before they become overwhelming.
Because addiction is a brain disease that includes behavioral elements, physical actions are an important way to create change. Just as negative behaviors fuel an addiction, positive ones reverse the cycle of addiction and allow a person’s brain to heal and develop new connections related to healthy behaviors such as exercise over drinking or a movie with a friend over getting high.
When a person is introspective and learns why he chose drugs and alcohol at any given time, he can address the original problem, such as anxiety, in a healthier way. The ability to get to the root of a problem is important in family life, too. Often the problems that cause fights in a family, such as dirty socks constantly left on the bathroom floor, are about a bigger issue. When one person in the family learns how to figure out the underlying problem in a fight, he can use this strategy to help figure out all kinds of emotional problems in many situations. Taking the time to actively listen in a heated discussion about dirty socks may lead to learning how his partner feels overwhelmed with household duties, for example.
- Stable Life That Brings Routine, Peace and Good Expectations
Another advantage of sober living is the drive to create stability. Because addiction is a chronic brain disease that creates compulsive cravings akin to human drives like the need to eat, it destroys a person’s willingness to invest energy in anything else according to NIDA. A person with an addiction will search and plan for her next fix to the exclusion of anything else. Once a person begins healing from addiction, she can focus on the important things in life again. She puts energy into relationships, improves her performance at work and enjoys hobbies or family activities again.
By switching her focus from drugs or alcohol to people and responsibilities, a person also creates stability. While spontaneity is exciting and can lead to fun activities, such as an impromptu movie or game of soccer in the park, people need routine and order as part of day-to-day life. Routines are the building blocks of stable, happy families according to research conducted on regular activities such as family dinners and birthday celebrations. A 2007 article in Infants & Young Children linked regular family gatherings and daily routines, such as bedtime stories, to improved emotional health in children and better social skills and academic achievement. Routines for couples that have special emotional meaning, such as a date night, improve feelings of closeness and increase satisfaction levels among partners.
When a former addict shifts to being involved with her family and friends by consistently being at dinners or reading bedtime stories, she is building trust and increasing feelings of love and satisfaction among all family members.
- Better Relationships Based on New Understanding
Relationships change to accommodate a person with an addiction. A loved one may try to cover up things that go wrong and end up taking on a new role of caretaker. Or he or she may use the addict’s failures as a way to feel superior and lose the ability to admit wrong in any situation. When a person gains sobriety, he takes on new roles in his relationships. It is hard for others to immediately accept that a person in recovery can be trusted or given responsibilities according to help materials from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Loved ones may feel lost when they lose their caretaking duties or angry when they have no one to blame for all of a relationships’ problems.
When family members begin to trust a newly sober person, they may open up and talk about the difficulties of the past. These conversations are hard and emotionally draining, but they are important ways to make sure everyone’s feelings are heard and actions are taken to make everyone feel loved. Even though hard conversations occur after sobriety, using the things learned while talking helps everyone make the changes necessary to have healthy relationships.
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