Understanding Addiction and Recovering Together

Helping a loved one who is struggling with addiction can be a difficult task. It is important to understand boundaries and how to implement them, but often family members don’t know where to turn or even where to begin. Family members can feel alone in this battle, but they don’t have to. Fairbanks offers group sessions for families to gain additional insight and education about addiction.

Jay Harpring is an adult counselor and facilitator of the family recovery management group at Fairbanks. He understands just how important communication is for families in recovery.

“They don’t want to enable, but that’s the role they have often taken,” Harpring said. “Learning boundaries and how to communicate with a loved one in a way that is recovery-focused, supportive and not demeaning is key.”

Families often neglect their daily routine and health to fully care for and support their loved one. But this can be harmful to all parties involved.

“Just as a person struggling with addiction gives up their hobbies and interests, the entire family does as well.” Harpring said. “We teach them how this affects the whole family and what steps they need to take so they can be healthier as well.”

The families are able to share with one another, ask questions and give feedback, which is a unique attribute for these groups called cross talk.

“They are educating each other about addiction through their experiences and sharing healthier ways of living, which is the goal of the group,” Harpring said.

Mike and Jennifer joined the family support group after a loved one received treatment at Fairbanks. They believe that cross talk is the most beneficial part of this group.

“That communication is so important because we are able to learn from one another,” said Jennifer. “It helps having different opinions of advice because everyone is different and everything doesn’t work for everyone.”

The support group has taught their family how to understand each other and has strengthened their bonds.

“Going to the group has brought us closer as a family and couple. Instead of us drifting apart because of our differences in opinion, we can accept them,” Mike said. “It has changed us from enabling to having boundaries and being firm with them. We have become more supportive of each other and stronger as a family.”