The Importance of a Family Program In Addiction Recovery

by Cathy Connors, Co-founder and President, Canadian Health Recovery Centre

6 July 2016

Anyone who has lived with a person with addiction knows the toll it takes on the entire family, friends and loved-ones.

Unlike other illnesses, families typically do not feel hurt, angry or resentful toward the person suffering, yet these are often the feelings that families and loved-ones experience toward those suffering with addiction.

The pain, stress and dysfunction in the family due to the addiction is significant and it can be debilitating. Trust is broken. Relationships are damaged.  Embarrassing situations lead to isolation, anger and resentment. It becomes difficult or impossible to make plans to do things, to socialize, to invite people into your home, as you cannot predict whether it will be a good day or not. Frustration, resentment and fear are common elements in a household living with addiction. Arguments become the norm and the person in active addiction only seems to get worse as the anxiety, guilt and shame build. Feelings of hopelessness and depression take hold on the family, right along with the person in active addiction.

Participation by family and loved-ones in the treatment and recovery process is critical to the long-term recovery success of the person in treatment as the family needs to heal along with the person in treatment. Addressing the ripple effects of addiction throughout the family is an integral component of restoring healthy methods of communication, levels of trust, degrees of intimacy and elements of self-care for each individual within the family unit.


Families may demonstrate a variety of responses about engaging in their own recovery process. Some are surprised that they have been identified as needing help and others may be so hurt and angry that they are resistant to engaging. Without engagement of the family in the treatment and recovery process, the opportunity for ongoing recovery for the person seeking addiction treatment can be significantly diminished.

At the Canadian Health Recovery Centre we believe it is extremely beneficial for a person in early recovery to have the support and understanding of family and loved-ones. It is equally important for family members to hear the message – that they deserve their own personal recovery as well. Helping families understand that participating in their own recovery improves their lives regardless of their loved one’s choices, is a fundamental message that must be communicated.

At CHRC we provide a comprehensive Family Program designed to educate, inform and dispel many of the misconceptions that surround addiction and mental health issues and provide a better understanding so that the healing process can begin. The family program at CHRC is designed to assist the client and family members in the development of a continuing care plan unique to their family’s needs. It is this care plan that will provide the bridge for transition from the safety of residential treatment to successful, long-term recovery.

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