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  • There are many fathers in recovery from substance use issues, such as chronic alcohol use or opioid use, who deserve recognition with Father’s Day coming up. 

    Some have attained long-term sobriety by entering an inpatient program and continuing treatment through 12-step meetings or therapy. 

    Others are newly sober fathers who are still adjusting to a different life and need all the support they can get. This can start with their immediate family. 

    Below we’ll explore some ways you can honor and support your sober father.

    Ways To Honor Your Sober Father

    Honoring your father in recovery doesn’t have to be extravagant, costly, or time-consuming. In most cases, your presence will be enough, and they’ll be appreciative of the gesture. 

    No matter if your father is just starting his sober journey, or has been sober for years, he deserves to be recognized for his incredible strength in trying to stay sober. 

    These actions also celebrate your family’s journey. Family roles in addiction are sometimes everchanging, even in recovery, but now is the time to praise your family’s perseverance. 

    You can honor your father in recovery by:

    • engaging in healthy communication
    • spending quality time with him
    • being a reliable and dependable child 

    Let’s take a closer look at each of these actions, so you can better support and honor your father in recovery. 

    Engage In Healthy Communication

    One of the most important things you can do for your father in recovery is communicate well. Oftentimes in an active addiction, one can send mixed signals and stir confusion. 

    Now that your father is in recovery, he’ll be more receptive to communicating in healthy ways. He may still have trouble communicating himself, but you can assist in that as well.

    You can practice healthy communication in the following ways

    • Express care and concern in non-judgmental and non-accusatory ways. For example, if your father is acting abnormal, don’t immediately accuse him of relapse; instead, ask if there’s anything he wants to talk about.
    • Listen just as much, or more, as you speak.
    • Use a calm demeanor and tone of voice when speaking.
    • Let your father know you are open to dialogue that may be uncomfortable.
    • Avoid bringing up past negative moments, and instead recount recent positive memories.

    Don’t avoid bringing up something out of fear of how he’ll take it. This can be enabling and lead to resentment. 

    If you’re having trouble deciding if something is worth bringing up to your father in recovery, try attending al-anon meetings

    These meetings can provide important perspectives and experiences from other family members of those in recovery, helping you to better communicate with your father. 

    Spend Quality Time Together

    Living with an adult who has a substance abuse problem is never easy. In his active addiction, your father may have been emotionally unavailable or away from the family frequently.

    With recovery comes time for the more important things in life, such as spending time together and making up for lost time.

    It may feel unnatural to spend time together at first, especially if your father is newly sober and hasn’t yet learned how to work on his relationship with you and other family members.

    Here’s how you can start:

    • going on walks, runs, hikes, or other outdoor activities 
    • attending sporting events, music concerts, comedy shows, or other forms of live entertainment
    • joining a class to learn a new skill or hobby 
    • learning a new language 
    • going camping
    • road tripping to a new or favorite destination 
    • visiting family and friends together
    • attending an open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous with him 
    • participating if they pray for recovery 
    • visiting a museum, record store, or bookstore 
    • learning and participate in one of his favorite activities or hobbies

    Remember to be mindful of potential triggers. For example, if being around alcohol at sporting events is triggering, you can instead watch the game together from home. 

    Be Reliable And Dependable 

    The grief and loss that the children of fathers with addictions feel may make them wary of building trust again. It’s difficult to be there for a father who wasn’t always there for you.

    However, you can make the first step in a positive direction by recognizing the progress your father has made and being there for them.

    Though it can be challenging, showing your reliability can help your father see that he has a solid support system behind him, which greatly aids in his recovery. 

    You can show your support by:

    • taking or accompanying him to get groceries, medical appointments, or the post office
    • responding to texts, emails, and calls in a timely manner
    • offering to do some chores around the house if you live at home with your father
    • being honest about issues or conflicts that may be bothering you or hurting him
    • embracing him with a kind, positive, and giving energy

    Treatment For Substance Abuse In Massachusetts

    If your family needs help dealing with the fallout of substance abuse, we are available. 

    At Ark Behavioral Health, we have many different detox and residential treatment programs available to help your father recover from substance abuse. 

    Contact us today to learn more about our options for recovery.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Grief And Loss
    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Resources For Families Coping With Mental And Substance Use Disorders

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on August 26, 2022
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