Holding a Family Member Accountable for Addiction

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a serious disease, and it impacts not only the individual but also their family members and friends. If you have a family member on the road to recovery, you may want to do everything you can to help that person. Emotional support, empathy, and compassion are some of the most important factors in supporting a loved one in recovery. Sometimes, however, you may find that it’s the accountability that a loved one is struggling with most. Accountability is important during the recovery process because it can be indicative of an individual’s long-term success.

Accountability involves taking responsibility for one’s actions. If a family member is having difficulty taking responsibility for their past alcohol abuse, the chances of relapse can be high. Fortunately, you can take to help support and hold a family member accountable during the recovery process.

1. Create an Accountability Statement Together

During the recovery process, communication can be flawed. Early in the recovery, consider encouraging your family member to come up with a personal accountability statement and write it down. These ‘self-contracts’ can help guide people during recovery by helping them stay goal-oriented and focused. An accountability statement may include:

  • Why your family member is taking responsibility for his or her actions
  • What your family member is promising to be responsible for during the recovery process
  • What the consequences will be if these promises are not kept

Agreeing to be held accountable can be met with scrutiny by the party looking to get sober, so it is important to be patient. Referencing an accountability statement can help serve as a reminder that accountability is an integral part of the recovery process.

2. Encourage Your Loved One to Embrace the Power of Technology

There are more resources available to people who are struggling with addiction today than ever before. Technology can be used to provide your family member with data that has been tailored to meet his or her needs. One of the most powerful ways that technology can be used involves Telehealth medicine. Patients recovering from alcohol addiction can use Telehealth portals to schedule appointments with online counselors, providers, and traditional therapists.

Individuals in recovery from AUD can also implement alcohol monitoring into their recovery. Systems like Soberlink remote alcohol monitoring promote accountability by encouraging clients to submit scheduled tests throughout the day. The pocket-sized, FDA-Cleared breathalyzer uses wireless technology to transmit real-time results and send them directly to the individual’s Recovery Circle. By utilizing technological advancements, such as Soberlink, to address AUD, individuals can approach their recovery in new and innovative ways. There are lots of options out there. It is important to help support your family member while they field options that work best for their needs.

3. Help Family Members Find Strategies to Handle Certain Triggers

Experiencing triggers may lead to a relapse. Part of being accountable is finding these triggers and looking for ways to avoid them. Some of the most common triggers include:

  • Rapid shifts in moods, which can lead to stress
  • Specific activities or routines
  • Certain people

Learning how to navigate specific triggers can be a productive step in a healthy recovery. There are a few ways you can help a loved one do this. If you notice your family member slipping back into their old routines or losing sight of their recovery goals, you can work with them to find new habits and activities that will work to improve their mood, change the patterns that led to addiction, and help them form healthy relationships that will not disrupt their recovery.

4. Encourage Participation in a Support Group

Most people in recovery agree the hardest part is admitting you have a problem. A helpful way to get a loved one to accept their addiction is to encourage participation in a program.

While Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the most commonly known program, there are plenty of other options. These include Celebrate Recovery and Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART). Offering your support or encouraging your family member to participate in these programs can result in a new routine coupled with a shared experience. This is an incredibly intimate way to foster accountability. Instilling in a family member hope for better days ahead is one way you can encourage them to remain committed and accountable. 

5. Celebrate the Successes

Celebrating successes is just as important as avoiding potential triggers. For many, the first year of sobriety is the hardest. Tracking the days and celebrating the milestones can help keep loved ones focused on their recovery. Tools like Soberlink are designed for success-tracking. Following a universally understood color-code, Soberlink Advanced Reporting® allows clients to view their progress over a week, month, or year. Compliant tests are indicated in green, and non-compliant tests are marked red. Watching their progress unfold will not only help to regain trust but will also help keep them accountable. Celebrating a loved one’s success can be key to welcoming your continued involvement.

Have Empathy During the Recovery Process

Addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. It impacts not only the individual but family members and friends as well. For many struggling with addiction, it is not their intent to cause harm to those they love. Understanding this and being mindful of the challenges they face will allow you to be more empathetic and caring towards a person struggling with AUD.

In recovery, slips happen. It’s how a person navigates these slips that matter. Helping loved ones learn techniques to avoid triggers and support their recovery is key in being a healthy advocate for their recovery. Moreover, teaching and encouraging accountability can help loved ones develop the confidence to tackle their substance abuse. Use the above tips as a guideline to help strengthen an individual’s recovery, and be an ally for a healthier future.

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