Family Support During COVID-19

How can we support our loved ones who have been struggling with addiction during these stressful times? A big part of having a healthy response is taking care of ourselves. If we encourage them to attend meetings, call their sponsor, worked the steps, and stay focused on the positive, we have to ask ourselves, “Are we doing what we are asking them to do?” Leading by example, is a good philosophy to have.

When people begin the recovery process, they are susceptible to stress. Eating right is essential and reduces other cravings that their body develops for unhealthy sugars and carbs. Getting enough sleep helps us make better decisions, reduces snappy, angry responses or lackadaisical/apathetic attitudes that can develop when we’re too tired. Exercising provides us with good circulation, gets us out in the sun, offers fresh air (usually), and lets us enjoy nature. Drinking enough water and healthy (nonalcoholic) juices will help us stay hydrated and cleans out our system.

Anxiety, depression, stress, guilt, and shame are all emotions that need to be expressed in healthy ways. The therapist once told me, “A sign of maturity is being able to express emotions responsibly.” Many of us haven’t communicated well through the addiction due to isolation, walking on eggshells, or explosive outbursts of many different emotions. We have to learn how to communicate again, and if we can’t do it amongst ourselves, maybe we need to talk to our sponsors, counselors, group members, church members, or therapists. Getting another point of view will help us find a new and better understanding of how to get along with others by hearing what we couldn’t hear before.

Socializing is different right now, and our usual reaction is to go back to old friends were familiar with, or isolate. Neither one of these are healthy responses when we are stressed or have “cabin fever.” Thinking about how our counselor, sponsor, or recovering friends would respond helps us assess our bad decisions and resort to things we’ve learned to our Positive Recovery experiences. We would have better results by choosing outcomes that support our recovery efforts. Going places and doing things that remind us of our alcohol and drug days has to be balanced with spending time at home with family AND spending time with people in recovery. A good decision comes from “playing it through.” Thinking about the outcome, changing how we react, stopping old behavior that have been ineffective in our family in the past, shows our recovery is working. Practice what you learned in the recovery process, whether we are the person with the addiction or the codependent.

Remembering our goals and what we want to achieve in life helps us to remember to make good decisions. How many times do we all remember making one wrong decision as a family member or as a person with an addiction and how one response, one statement, one word, one action that resulted in days or months or years of pain and wreckage. Remember that our goal is to live a better life. Contribute to this world and be what we were created to be, helps us to make better decisions.

Using spirituality and prayer as simple as the Serenity Prayer helps us to make better decisions. Some of us have said that prayer 5, 10, 50 times a day with positive results.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

When you have a problem, think about each section of that prayer. Whatever group we belong to, we are people working on our recovery.

As family members, maintain your boundaries. As people recovering from unhealthy behaviors, remember your decisions will provide either blessings or consequences; positive outcomes or negative. We all have to retrain ourselves through recovery, spirituality, reading and self-examination.

Recovery does work.

There is an answer.

Trust the process.

I hope to see you in an online meeting and hope the blessings of recovery continue to bless your life richly.

Steven W. Murphy, LCDC, AADC
Program Director
Positive Recovery Centers – San Antonio

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