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Family Matters: Why Boundaries and Education Are Important to Establish in Early Recovery

Addiction can affect every part of a person’s life, including their relationships with their friends and family. It is often called a family disease because it can affect the dynamic of the whole family. This is why it is so important to have family members be involved in early recovery and treatment.  

How Substance Use Disorder Affects Families

When thinking about how substance use disorder (SUD) affects families, it can help to think about the family unit as a machine made up of interconnected moving parts. Each family member is an important part of the machine and has a direct influence over how the machine works.

As one person begins to change their behavior, it will affect the entire family, for better or worse. When a person in the family is struggling with SUD, their behavior may become unpredictable and harmful. As their behavior changes, it will cause the other members of the family to change as well because they have to adapt to the new family function. 

Often there are obvious direct changes to the relationships between individuals within the family. There may also be subtle shifts in the family dynamic that are harder to identify. Having family members be involved in treatment is a great way to learn more about the effects of SUDs on families and the importance of boundaries. This can also be done within a family counseling setting if need be. 

Importance of Family Education in Early Recovery

Education is the most important thing an individual or a family can arm themselves with when supporting a loved one through treatment and early recovery. It is very helpful to understand how addiction affects mental and physical health, as well as dispelling any stigmas or misinformation that might be problematic. 

Sometimes it can be hard to recognize unhealthy behavior patterns when you are experiencing them. By gaining more education and working with a professional SUD counselor, families will be able to identify the ways that they have changed. Then they can develop coping skills that will help them generate more healthy behaviors. This will enable them to be supportive of their loved ones during early recovery and do their own healing.

Establishing Boundaries in Early Recovery

Boundaries are an essential part of any healthy relationship. While they are often mislabeled as ways to push people away, boundaries are limits that exist to protect our physical and emotional safety. Sometimes our boundaries require us to limit contact with people who do not keep us safe. However, more often, they can help us operate more efficiently and comfortably within our existing relationships.

Relationships can often fall into unhealthy patterns when SUD is involved. Family members often don’t know what to do to help their loved one and end up doing whatever they think works best. Sometimes they feel trapped in behavior patterns that they know are unhealthy but don’t know how to get out of.

During treatment and early recovery, family members can re-establish healthy behavior patterns by creating appropriate boundaries. Boundaries are used as a way to help the family heal and re-establish trust. They are also an essential tool for the person recovering from SUD to make sure that they feel safe and respected moving forward in sobriety.

How Can Family Members Be a Part of Treatment and Recovery?

If the treatment facility that their family member is attending is close to their family, there are several ways for families to be involved during treatment. There are often family therapy options to allow every member of the family the chance to be heard and understood. Sometimes there are educational groups that family members can attend. Visits from family members can also be a great way to show support during treatment.

If their loved one is in a treatment facility that is not close, the family must commit to doing some learning and healing on their own. They can still attend family therapy sessions and educational groups that are local to them. This will help them understand what their loved one is going through and figure out how to move forward during early recovery once treatment is complete. 

When their loved ones return home, the family can be a crucial source of support during early recovery. They can be a solid base of support for maintaining sobriety. Family members can also be a source of friendship and fun, which is essential to leading a happy life in sobriety.   

Family Involvement at Malibu Wellness Ranch

At Malibu Wellness Ranch, we understand the importance of family involvement in our client’s recovery process. When a new client arrives, they are assigned a counselor that will work with them throughout their stay. These counselors facilitate communication with the client’s family members and schedule family sessions if necessary. Sessions can happen in person or over the phone as needed. It is always our goal to set our clients up for the best chance of success once they have completed our treatment program.


Addiction is often called a family disease because it affects not only the person struggling but every member of their family as well. It is important that every person in the family be given a chance to reflect on their experience and have their perspective honored. For success in treatment and early recovery, it is often essential that the entire family becomes more educated and has the opportunity to heal. Establishing healthy boundaries will be important as the family moves forward and repairs damaged relationships. For more information on how your family can heal and grow together, call Malibu Wellness Ranch at (800) 862-5428. We are committed to helping clients develop the skills they need to be successful.