coming clean to family

Telling Extended Family About Your Addiction Recovery

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

So the Christmas season is here and there is something burning on your mind: is this the right time to tell my extended family about my addiction recovery? The answer to that question is not really cut and dried. However, there are some benefits to sharing your story with the family gathered together. As well, coming clean with everyone can be a way for you to add momentum and support to your new life transformation. And every bit helps.

Ultimately, you are going to have to decide if your family is going to respond favorably to your news, but one thing to remember is that this is indeed good news. Getting sober, finding help for addiction, and transforming your life is wildly powerful. It is an achievement to be proud of and a journey to begin celebrating. With that in mind, here are a couple of things to remember as you share your news with your close and extended family.

Your Close Family

Your mother and father, brother and sister, your spouse and children. These are your first priority. They deserve the most from you and they also should receive the most complete explanation. If you are planning on telling the people in your immediate family about your newfound recovery, it is a good idea to do it before you tell the extended family. Try to keep it to one or two people at a time. Suggest going out for a cup of coffee or a walk outdoors.

If they were not aware of your drinking or drug use, be prepared and allow them to ask questions. The key with telling your close family in this way will be authenticity and transparency. It is very likely you have been keeping secrets, and this might even be the first time in a long time you feel you are truly present with these loved ones.

In the best scenario, this can be a warm and comfortable conversation as those we love are the most likely to become the ones who are most supportive. This is important because as you move forward in your personal story of recovery, you will need the support of your loved ones. And you will need to feel free from the burden of hiding your secrets from the important people in your life.

Extended Family

“Good news everyone, I have an addiction!”

Okay, maybe you wouldn’t exactly put it that way, but remember, finding recovery is amazing news. You have experienced transformation. You have already become, and are constantly becoming a completely new person. Your life was headed into disastrous areas, and now you have a hope for a future and the possibility of a redeemed life. So if you decide to tell your extended family, you can also choose to direct the emotional tone. You can make it a positive conversation.

The holidays can actually be a good time to do this. The reason is if you are controlling the mood and feel of the news, you can make sure it is part of the celebration. You could even start with something like, “So you might be wondering why I don’t have a glass of wine in each hand this year.” Keep it positive. Make sure your announcement is seen as a healthy move for a better future for you and your life.

When It Goes South

There may be judgments, but you have no control over the negativity of others. And if people come out in anger or overly critical of the your life, remember they are most likely working out their own issues in your choices. This might sound tough, but it is also a way to understand who you need to get space from, especially in early recovery.

The idea of making an announcement about recovery can bring anxiety for many of us. However, if you have gotten help for your addiction, you have made a valuable, moral, and life-affirming choice. Sharing that news will help you embrace this achievement for what it is.

Still Looking for Recovery?

If you are on the other side of the family coin and are concerned about a loved one and their possible addiction to drugs or alcohol, you have options. Or if you are considering finding recovery yourself, please call First Steps Recovery today, and one of our addiction specialists will connect with you. Recovery is possible. Don’t wait to find full transformation. Call today: 1-844-489-0836.

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