Family Wellness
January 2nd, 2018

Q. How can I help my wife and her family with her father’s opioid addiction? — Nick K., Bridgeport, CT

When someone is struggling with addiction, it doesn’t just affect them, it affects those around them as well. It can be especially difficult on immediate families, your wife’s family in this case. The most important thing that you can do right now is to come together and form a united support system for your father-in-law. This will also help you to help her family as well. While he is the main concern, none of you should feel neglected either. If this happens, it can breed resentment or feelings of anger, which can significantly damage family dynamics.

If you father-in-law is currently in treatment, you should make sure that you are all doing whatever you can to support his recovery efforts. For instance, don’t enable his addiction in any way and keep potential triggers out of your home. Most importantly, set up rules and boundaries for all members of the family to avoid harming his recovery in any way, and make sure to also hold each other accountable in sticking to them.

If he isn’t currently in treatment, you should do some research and find the right place for him to get help. Whether it’s a residential program or an outpatient one, he will need professional help to get through it. Opioid addiction is very difficult to overcome, but it is possible with the right support.

Also, please make sure that you are taking care of yourself and seeking emotional support during this time. There are many beneficial resources available to you and your wife’s family, such as Nar-Anon, private family counseling, or a family workshop. And you can always get recommendations from his treatment center to make sure that you are all getting the help that you need.