Family Survival Skills in Early Recovery


In the early stages of recovery may be a difficult time for not only you, but also the people who care deeply for you.  There will be all kinds of emotions flying around and family skills in place will keep everyone on the same page about your recovery.  Michael Ascher MD and Barry Lessin wrote a great article on about recovery and family for  Family is a lot of recovering people’s main reason why they would like to clean up their lives from their addiction!

2. Self-care is essential in order to be able to respond effectively to all of the various stressors that are common for people in early recovery. Making sure that you’re getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise can minimize the frequency of setbacks in your recovery and make you more equipped to deal with any ruptures in your relationships with family members. The importance of establishing appropriate boundaries and setting limits with loved ones is an ongoing process that must be regularly explored and negotiated with the ones you care about.

5. Earning back trust. Trust falls along a spectrum. Just because you’re now in recovery doesn’t mean that you have regained the full trust of your family. This is usually one of the hardest things for our patients to accept. They are working so hard to change their behavior and goals, but their families continue to harbor resentments and engage with them as if they were still using. We hear this common refrain: “Sometimes, I wonder why I should continue working on my recovery when my family doesn’t see the progress I’m making.” It takes time to rebuild trust.

6. Embracing empathy. Anticipate the various possible sources of discord between you and loved ones, and make a plan for how you will respond in the most effective way. Work out a plan ahead of time for how you will respond if family dynamics become overwhelmingly negative. And after an argument it’s important that you remain non-defensive and own your part in the conflict. Being empathic means imagining what it must be like for your loved ones: explicitly communicating that understanding to them will promote mutual empathy and bonding.

10. Understand The Family Emotional Bank Account: The concept of an emotional bank account was created by Stephen R. Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Each time you say or do something caring or generally positive, you make a deposit; each time you say something critical, or generally negative, you make a withdrawal. Unlike a real bank account, emotional deposits and withdrawals are not equal. Covey states that one critical statement usually negates five praises or other positive statements. Remember that you may have made more negative “deposits” than positive ones when you were actively using and that it will take some time for the positive “deposits” of early recovery to accumulate. Be patient until your emotional bank account starts to move into the black.

Read more here.

Family does not just stop at your mother, father, siblings, and extended members of your bloodline.  Family can be consider anyone who will love you unconditionally and even at your lowest points in life.  Family will support you and pick you up to put you back together!  Having not only your family to help you get through recovery, but you will need yourself.  If you would like more information about recovery please contact Bridgeway Behavioral Health by calling 866-758-1152 or visiting online

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