Whitney’s Personal Experience

Hearing that a loved one is going away to engage in substance abuse treatment is a difficult thing to hear. While it may be apparent that someone close to you needs help, sometimes it’s not quite that black and white.

Perhaps you didn’t realize the severity of the problem, and then you begin to question yourself and what you could have done differently.

My sister is currently 22 months clean from all substances. And when she made the decision to engage in treatment, it came after a very real, raw conversation within our family.

There were tears, and there were proclamations, but above all else there was understanding. We, as a family, understood that she had made a decision for herself and we were prepared to support that journey, even if it meant she would need to be far away from us to do so.

She understood that it was okay for us to be silent, and a bit ignorant to the complexities of the situation. It was okay for us to not know all the right things to say in the moment, because as she was going through her journey, we would be going through our own as well.

Growing Together

The time she spent in treatment was a time for us to learn and grow in our own ways as the family of a person in recovery. My parents attended family sessions, and we engaged in al-anon meetings to further understand and educate ourselves on what it means to be an addict.

It took time for us to fully absorb all the information and work on better assisting my sister as she transitioned into a new phase of her life, but she never lost her patience with us. She continued to understand this was a marathon for us all and not a sprint.

Moving Forward as a Family

The most important things to remember as you and your family forge ahead on a new path is to provide support in the manner in which it works for your specific situation, educate yourself on the things you don’t understand, and remain open to the process.

There may be peaks and valleys while your loved one is in treatment, and it may get hard to be away from them and feeling as though you’re not helping them through such a life-alerting moment.

But the power of presence and just showing up where you need to be can do wonders for your loved one in ways you may not immediately see.

Continue to practice patience and understanding and you can get through this time and a become a stronger ally to the person who needs your support more than ever.