The effects of substance abuse and eating disorders go far beyond the person suffering from it. Almost invariably, the lives of every single family member of the afflicted are touched as well. This makes communication between family members as important as ever. While skills like active listening and strategies like setting aside time to talk are essential, the nature of these disorders calls for special care. Here are a few things to keep in mind while communicating with a loved one who’s suffering.
Lead With Love
The lives of those suffering from substance abuse or eating disorders are full of isolation and darkness. One of the best ways to combat this is through communication, connection, and unconditional love. It’s easy to become angry and frustrated with the process: the relapses, the treatment episodes, the rebuilding. Believe us, we get it. We’ve had plenty of experiences from both sides of this coin. But we can also tell you from experience that no one is more frustrated with these things than your loved one. A sense of love and support from their families is essential to getting through the rough times.
Open Your Mind
If your loved one is in treatment or counseling for their substance abuse or eating disorder, they’re learning everything they can about their disease. While they may have had years of experience in learning who these things operate first-hand, they’re now learning the science behind the disorders and the relationship to their behaviors. We suggest you follow their lead and take this as an opportunity to be teachable. And while the internet is obviously a great resource for information, consider talking to your loved one about their struggles to get an idea of what their experiences have been. Open and honest communication breeds the connections we spoke of earlier.
Save Your Judgement
This can be seen as a corollary to the first suggestion. However, it’s important enough that it needs special mention. There are few quicker ways to put someone on the defensive than to judge them. And for those in recovery, that means putting the walls back up and returning to isolation. Try to remember that we don’t need to have an opinion about everything that happens around us. Rather than evaluating the events, simply observe them. If this sounds a lot like mindfulness, you’re on the right track. In fact, the Dalai Lama said, “Love is the absence of judgment.”
If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you’ve no doubt heard us talking about a sober support group. However, the concept extends beyond substance abuse – those suffering from eating disorders have similar support groups. Furthermore, the families and friends of these folks also have support groups. You might want to try Al-Anon or Nar-Anon if your loved one is dealing with substance abuse or FEAST, in the case of eating disorders. Or you might try to get to know the parents of the friends your loved one may meet while in treatment. Communication with those going through the same things is invaluable. Recovery is difficult for everyone involved and we could all use the extra support.
Ocean Recovery has been successfully treating substance abuse and eating disorders since 2002 and counts family therapy among the services we offer. If you or someone you love is struggling, please don’t hesitate to call today. Our admissions specialists are standing by to answer any and all questions you might have about the process. Call today and start building your foundation for success.