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How Your Family Can Let Go of the Past During Rehab

By the time you find yourself in treatment, you will have alienated people and you will have been made to feel alienated for a number of reasons. Sadly, when addiction takes over your life, it takes the place of things that were previously important to you, like family and friends. For immediate help, call 800-256-3490.

Even basic attitudes held by your family can cause distance to develop in the face of addiction. PBS points out how often addiction is moralized: good kids abstain and bad kids use. They assert 80 percent of America’s children will at least sample drugs or alcohol. By these rules, those 80 percent are bad. There are only so many times you can be called bad before a relationship feels fractured.

On the other hand, addiction is about taking and people close to you may feel you have taken what they can give and more and not returned the sacrifice. This can be emotional taking, but you also may have actually taken and/or stolen goods and money.

When there is this level of discord in in a family, how can you get the most out of rehab? How do you move beyond the pain of your addiction and its consequences? Is that even possible? It can be, but you need to be patient and take advantage of the opportunities offered by drug and alcohol treatment.


The core negative emotion that erodes families facing addiction is resentment. If you and your family feels you have been wronged, you will be dealing with this emotion. It may be the result of very real events, but it can also be the result of perceived slights. For instance, family may think your inability to get sober was a way of getting back at you —even though that’s not the case—and they may resent you for it.


During Rehab

Lies and unfair behavior can cause resentment to develop in the family.

There are a number of reasons that resentment develops; some have been mentioned already. Others include:

  • Inability to act in a way that is expected
  • Efforts to control another person’s life
  • Being on the receiving end of a superior attitude
  • Interrupting a person’s attempts to satisfy their needs
  • Hypocrisy: saying one thing and doing another
  • Abuse of power by superiors
  • Statements of actions designed to erode another person’s self-respect
  • Lies
  • Unfair behavior

Any of these reasons or others may have negatively impacted your relationship with your family.


The more positive emotion you can build, the less room there will be for resentment. Both you and your family can contribute to this. If your family is very stubborn, you may have to start the process.

Express your gratitude to your family. Let them know that you are appreciative of everything they have done for you and mean it. When you feel yourself growing resentful, force yourself to sit down and focus on what you are grateful for in that moment. You can teach this activity to your family and use it when you have conversations.

Don’t use gratitude to close off discussion. Sometimes people need to work through negative emotion, but when the negative emotion isn’t productive, it’s time to pause.

Check Motives

A lot of bitterness comes from setting ourselves up for it. When you focus on what’s in it for you, you invite resentment.

If your family wants to know what they get from drug and alcohol treatment, they may not see benefits. They may not recognize your return to the person you used to be and the relationship you used to have as a sufficient pay out. But, it should be.

When you feel like your family is getting caught up in a motive cycle, remind them of the actual benefits.


Treatment often offers family therapy and if your family is willing to enter into therapy, they will be given the opportunity to deal with their perceived injuries.

For example, the family disease model of therapy treats substance abuse as a disease that attacks the whole family, so it treats the whole family. Behaviors like codependence are discussed and battled. This helps your family function better and move forward.

For more tips that will help your family get behind you and your treatment, call 800-256-3490. You deserve their support and you can help them let go of some of their baggage.

Tips for Attending Family Counseling in an Addiction Treatment Center

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Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: Rehab Media Group, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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