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You can’t do this alone, nor do you want to: The role family plays in recovery

In Virginia, nearly 27% of people live with someone with substance use concerns according to research from the Virginia Statewide Substance Use and Behavioral Health Needs Assessment from 2018. Systems of care should not stop with the person in addiction; resources need to extend to their loved ones who can play a major role in their recovery.

SAARA has launched a Family in Recovery weekly peer-led group meeting that will focus on individuals as well as their families as they go through the process of recovery together. This group is held Tuesday nights at 6:00pm and lead by Lynda Clarke.

Research shows that family involvement has a positive impact on a loved one’s recovery from addiction. "Healthy family roles and behaviors include holding their loved one accountable for their behavior and creating rewards for positive choices," according to experts at the Addiction Center.

"Addiction can damage family dynamics, erode trust, and weaken communication. Family members who experience a loved one battling with a substance use disorder often endure a host of painful emotions. A family impacted by substance abuse inevitably develops into a dysfunctional system," experts explain.

Tucker, a SAARA volunteer with lived-experience in addiction and his mother who now works in the recovery community, share their journey:

"For many years we let fear guide our decisions and walked on eggshells. All of our attention was on our son and getting him help. What we were doing was not helping our family or our son, so we started to put the pieces together to get our life back," Tucker's mother explains.

"My husband and I put together a plan that included attending weekly family recovery education meetings, support groups, and at times meeting with a therapist to help us get on the same page. Honestly, it felt like a part-time job but it was worth it!"

"We put our recovery first and it ultimately helped him find his recovery."

Fighting addiction was not a battle Tucker fought alone. "When I moved out of the house, my family had countless sleepless nights wondering if I was going to be in prison or dead when they woke up," Tucker shares.

"When I was in my active addiction I was a master manipulator that would think to myself 'they will be in my corner no matter what, they won’t actually do what they say they are going to.' And that was true for years."

Tucker's family built a foundation of healthy support and boundaries that played a pivotal role in repairing their relationships. Both Tucker and his mother reported seeking family-centered recovery meetings, peer support groups, and therapy during their efforts.

"You can’t do this alone, nor do you want to!"

"Many people need extra support. It is so important to figure out ways to work through this pain and have a support system around you," said Tucker. Tucker and his mother are happy to report that he is three years sober as of last week.

There are nearly 2.3 million Virginian's who are living with someone with substance use concerns. If Tucker's story resonates with your living situation, or if you are interested in learning more about how recovery can be a team effort, join our Family in Recovery meeting. Support systems are the key to success in seeking and maintaining recovery.