The feelings I have when I think of family are “warm fuzzies.” I had so many different thoughts about families regarding its importance when writing this. My family matters to me. I think it is an important factor in everyone’s life. I could not imagine not having my family, children, mother, siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends.
All of us have ancestors. Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no getting away from them. They are there, good or bad. As mental health professionals and substance abuse treatment counselors, we work in a field where we see the very essence of family. Families can give us hope or take that same hope away. We want our families to be involved in our own treatment and of course we want our patients to have the support of their families. But that doesn’t always happen. Addiction takes away trust, boundaries and self esteem. We learn to cope with shame and guilt. I am sure some family members pray and feel that no one hears these prayers. Counselors are dedicated to doing their best to give hope to the family and the addict. We have found families which are engaged in the substance abuse treatment process have a much better success rate. When everything else fails, families can stand like soldiers. The very thing needed to survive (love and acceptance) has been there all the time wrapped up in our family.
Families do matter! Most of us have been given love; maybe not the way we thought it should be, but love none-the-less. What we needed was encouragement… understanding… hope… comfort… advice… values… and morals. Most of us were taught something about faith. Faith gives us something to hold onto through the good times and bad. We can now be taught to laugh at our mistakes. We could be just a little proud of learning from our families, whether what we learned was “how to” or “how not to.”
In recovery, we are taught to enjoy life and to appreciate the beauty of everything. We learn by watching the examples before us. We’re told to try out new things, to laugh and enjoy being alive, to try harder or try again, to appreciate what we have, to help those who are less fortunate, to make friends, to be a friend, and to honor God. Through substance abuse treatment and the recovery process, the thing that matters most is family and with that our hope and faith are restored. We learn family does matter even if it is our own AA or NA family. The realization and acceptance of that can be our greatest asset, the wisdom to know family does matter.