Powerful Allies in the Recovering Family

allies in family recovery


In their book, STAYING SOBER, Gorski & Miller, state, “Family members can be powerful allies in preventing relapse …”  To that end, Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers offers psycho-education groups for family and friends of our clients with substance use disorders (SUDs). These groups help loved ones become powerful allies and open the door to family recovery. 


Powerful Allies in the Recovering Family

Over the last few months, our articles have looked at the big picture of addiction’s impact on the family. We’ve also looked at specific behaviors family members become engaged in, like controlling and enabling. We’ve reviewed being strategic and purposeful and questioned the issue of addiction and recovery legacy.


When your loved one with an SUD enters treatment, it is time for family members to do the same. Your loved one will be looking at themselves, their addiction and behaviors. Likewise, it will enhance their chances for a lasting recovery if family members and friends do the same. 


helping hands family allies



Family Self-Inventory

To start your family treatment and recovery process, take an in-depth look at your thoughts. How do you act towards your loved one with an SUD? This is the beginning of your lifelong, self-inventory process. When your loved one is in treatment and preparing to leave its protection, we recommend they make a daily plan of specific activities they will engage in to support their own recovery. So, how about you? You’re in early recovery, too!


Ernie Larsen, author of some 30 books and a pioneer in the field of recovery from addictive behaviors writes, “What we live, we learn. What we learn, we practice. What we practice, we become”.  Interesting, huh?


So let’s practice. At a quiet time in your day, ask yourself:

What will I do today, or have I done to support my family recovery?

Am I focused on my own accountability with my own thoughts, feelings and actions?

And am I focused on what happened in the past or having “what if’s” about the future? 


If you find yourself preoccupied with thought, worry or solving your loved one’s problems, you are not in the present or accountable for your own thoughts and feelings! It is by focusing on your own thoughts, feelings and actions that you will be empowered to make any change you need to accomplish.


Remember that age old slogan from 12 step programs?  “If nothing changes, NOTHING CHANGES!!

To avoid the trap of “being addicted to your loved one’s addiction”, you must first focus on yourself and your beliefs, feelings and actions.

A good daily plan for family allies will likely include:

  1. Attending a 12-step support meeting 
  2. Attending an individual or family counseling session that focuses on controlling or other enabling behaviors
  3. Reading about addiction, family recovery or a family recovery meditation and applying it through the day.
  4. Speaking openly and honestly with your loved one and allies
  5. Continue to challenge yourself with the questions on self-focus.


helping hands recovery allies family


At Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers, we encourage family and friends of clients in treatment to attend our Family Group.  We also share the information that family and friends receive with our clients as part of their treatment. This allows everyone to start off with the same information for their new, life long journey in recovery. 



Caroline (Carli) Parmelee-Noffsinger has 20 years clinical experience including: primary therapist and case manager for residential, IOP and outpatient therapy. Carli’s primary role at Sanford House is facilitating the Family Program. She is currently updating and revising the program design and content and hopes to improve upon an already successful approach to family intervention. In her free time, Carli spends time with her horse. She has been a horse lover and owner for most of her life and has facilitated equine therapy sessions. She says, “The back of a horse is good for the inside of a person.” You can reach Carli with questions about The Sanford House Family Program at cnoffsinger@sanfordhouse.com