Family Communication and Compassion in Recovery
by 449 Staff

When there is a lack of compassion between family members, there is usually a break in connection. Often, the root of problems within the relationships comes from not understanding or putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Looking at others’ misfortunes with sympathy and love can help you best support them. If you approach a person with no sense of compassion for what they are struggling with, it is almost as if you are fueling the fire with fire.

Being Aware of How You Treat Others

In order to connect on a healthy level with struggling loved ones, you must be aware of how you treat them, especially when it comes to recovery. Adults in recovery often are their own worst critics, and although you may not be able to grasp just what they are going through, empathy goes a long way. If a person struggling with addiction feels that they can be open with you about their struggles, that opens up room for growth. Try to think about how not one human on this earth is perfect, which should allow no room for judgment.

Creating Trust

A person in treatment may be used to thriving in secrecy and hiding their addiction and other struggles. This secrecy leads to disconnection and a lack of meaningful relationships. If you show someone that you can be a trusted source for them to come to, they will feel more naturally inclined to connect with you. When you are struggling with this, and you simply can’t come from a place of compassion, sit with yourself and think about how you would feel if, in your times of the most struggle, people just brushed you off like those struggles are not real.

Compassion Is Key

Compassion is the most powerful tool you can have when it comes to healing addiction. While in recovery, the most important thing you can give your loved one is compassion. When you are compassionate, you show your loved one:

  • You really see them and recognize their suffering
  • You hear them
  • They are safe to express their emotions
  • You care about them and their struggles

The Importance of Communication

Without communication, there is too much room for assumptions, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. A person seeking help for their addiction may not want to outright bring it up. There may be shame involved as well as the fear of judgment or disinterest. Effectively communicating with a loved one who is struggling can make a significant difference.

Reach Out to Your Loved One

Do not be afraid to reach out to your loved one. Ask them how they are doing, what they are feeling, and how you may be able to help support them in any way. It may be putting yourself in a vulnerable spot, but it may mean the world to your loved one and can go a long way.

Provide Love and Care

Offer love and care to those who are struggling. When speaking to your loved one about their struggles, you may not get the answers you want. You may expect the conversation to go one way, and it may take a complete 180. That is okay. Respecting your loved one while providing love and care lets the other person know they can come to you again in the future. Offer a listening ear because that may be all your loved one needs: to be heard. Don’t feel that you always have to know the answer or provide sound advice to be loving and caring – that is not always what people need or want.

Be Honest, Respectful, and Loving

Approach your relationships with truth, respect, and love. If you know your loved one is in treatment or has just finished treatment, be transparent with them and let them know you would love to open up communication with them. Express your care and concern for their well-being because they may not always be able to see your true intentions. Make your intentions known so that they don’t feel there are any malicious motives. Most importantly, respect that someone may not always be able to discuss what they are going through at the time that you would like them to.

Resources for the Family

While a family member struggles with addiction or mental health, it does not just affect the one abusing the substance; it affects the whole family. Your loved one’s struggles can take a toll and strain relationships. If you feel that you aren’t able to approach your loved one with compassion, that is okay. There are many ways to learn compassion, including taking care of yourself in support groups like Al-Anon and attending family therapy, where a professional can assist you.

Family support is essential during the process of recovery, but you may not always know the best way to offer it. Having compassion for your loved one can help show them that you see them, hear them, and recognize that they are struggling. Compassion through effective communication lets your loved one know that you are there to support them through their journey. If your loved one is struggling with their mental health and maladaptive coping skills, 449 Recovery can help. Our outpatient treatment facility in Mission Viejo, California, takes a person-centered approach to healing. We treat the entire person: mind, body, and spirit. Through evidence-based practices, we can help your loved one forge their way through recovery and create a life beyond their wildest dreams. For more information on 449 Recovery’s services and how you can best support your loved one, call (949) 435-7449.