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Healthier Together: Helping families with loved ones in recovery

Posted at 10:32 AM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 12:32:58-04

Addiction and recovery is something that affects an entire family. Often, we focus on helping the individual, but experts say there are ways to help an entire family heal.

Dr. Amy Khan, Executive Medical Director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah says, “It turns out 1 in 12 Americans suffers from a substance use disorder. What that means is that everybody knows someone who has a substance use disorder.”

Khan says oftentimes for families of those suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, it can be hard to heal. Many loved ones of addicts suffer from depression, anxiety and possibly substance abuse themselves.

“This condition affects everyone,” says Khan. “Whether you’re a spouse, a partner or child, a young child or an adult child. You didn’t cause this. You can’t cure this disease and you certainly can’t control this condition in individuals.”

The good news, Khan says, is that families can do a lot to help that individual, while helping themselves.

“There are numerous community support groups for families, family therapy, online peer support and virtual and in person counseling. Equally important for family members to understand is that their own health needs to be prioritized.”

She says that includes setting boundaries and limits to keep everyone safe. She also advises that you reach out to your health care provider or employer to see what resources are available to you.

“It’s important to acknowledge to the loved one that this is a chronic disease that is treatable, and they deserve to get treatment,” says Khan. “It’s equally important is for individuals in the family to get their own help and support.”