Busting 4 Myths About Supporting a Family Member in Addiction Recovery

Article in Health City by Meryl Bailey

Caregivers and social support play a critical role in managing chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer, contrasting it with the often stigmatized and misunderstood role of families in supporting individuals with substance use disorder (SUD).  However, families and loved ones of people with substance use disorder (SUD) often receive mixed messages from society about their role as caregivers from people using outdated language, such as "codependency" and "tough love," that can actually harm family members and loved ones in treatment. This article debunks 4 common myths surrounding family involvement in SUD treatment and suggests diverse ways clinicians can engage families to improve patient outcomes, stressing the importance of compassion and understanding in supporting individuals with SUD.

The Grayken Center for Addiction TTA Program created a video to educate clinicians on how longstanding stigma and misinformation impacts caregivers of people with substance use disorder and their loved ones.

Here are our key takeaways from the article:

  1. Critical Role of Social Support: Similar to chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer, social support from family, friends, and partners plays a vital role in managing substance use disorder (SUD) and improving treatment outcomes.
  2. Stigma Surrounding Family Involvement: Families of individuals with SUD often face stigma and outdated beliefs, such as the notion of "codependency" and "tough love," which can hinder effective support and perpetuate misunderstanding within both society and the medical community.
  3. Reframing Perspectives: Healthcare professionals need to reassess their views on family involvement in addiction treatment, moving away from stigmatizing myths and toward a more compassionate and inclusive approach that recognizes the importance of family support in patient care.
  4. Empowering Families: Education and support groups, such as those provided by the Grayken Center, are essential for empowering families with evidence-based knowledge and practical skills to support their loved ones with SUD effectively.
  5. Diverse Engagement Strategies: Clinicians should adopt diverse engagement strategies with families, emphasizing flexibility rather than adherence to specific models. This includes providing education, encouraging involvement in treatment, and offering practical support tailored to individual family dynamics and needs.

Busting 4 Myths About Supporting a Family Member in Addiction Recovery

From Health City

"Reframing the role of social support in addiction treatment among clinicians is a critical step toward improving health outcomes for patients with SUD. In less than a year, Grayken's TTA program has trained over 1,000 healthcare professionals nationwide about the importance of including family and social support in current models of care. They've encouraged clinicians to engage and educate patient families when possible, while working to dispel these common myths that perpetuate stigma around addiction."

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