Addiction and Alcoholism are diseases that affect entire families. If you or your loved one is suffering from drug addiction or alcoholism it is important to get the whole family the help they need. Often when we think about drug addiction or alcoholism we think about treating the person struggling with the issue. However, this disease negatively impacts all who are close to the addict or alcoholic and it is important for all to seek help and begin healing.
Substance abuse issues can affect families in many ways. Tensions begin to mount as the person falls further and further into addiction. Arguments occur regularly, trust is eroded, mood swings and physical changes occur in the addict or alcoholic, boundaries are overstepped and lots of grief occurs when watching a loved one destroy their life due to drugs and alcohol. Family members often worry they will get that devastating call that something awful has happened to their loved one and it is a very harsh reality to try to live in. It creates intense emotions and often consumes the lives of everyone involved. This is no way for families to live or function. Oftentimes family members develop unhealthy coping mechanisms and become codependent and actually end up enabling the person to continue using drugs or alcohol.
Codependency issues are common when dealing with unhealthy dynamics in families when addiction or alcoholism is involved. Codependency is a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity. Enabling is when a person knowingly or unknowingly protects the person from experiencing the full consequences of their actions and behaviors. This is counterproductive to the end goal of getting the person the help they need. This allows them to stay in the cycle of substance abuse.
If the person struggling with alcoholism and addiction is a parent, this can cause long-term effects in the children. One in five children in American is living with a parent who is suffering from addiction. Children who grow up with adult addicts or alcoholics in the home can develop depression or anxiety which can be a lifelong battle. They are also more likely to become an addict or alcoholic themselves. The negative effects this can have in the developing minds of children is endless. They can lash out in aggression and violence, they are more likely to be sexually abused and can suffer emotional problems and feelings of guilt. In many cases these children end up being raised by grandparents which puts strain on the aging parents. Grandparents are not often equipped to take on the financial and physical demands of raising children all over again. It is vital that these children get the counseling they need and put back in the homes of their parents when they are fit to take on that responsibility again.
Addiction also strains the primary relationship and/or marriage. Physical and verbal altercations begin to become the norm. Finances become strained as the addict spends money on drugs and alcohol rather than the usual household expenses. The addict or alcoholic may begin to face legal troubles due to their addiction issues and before they know it the drug or alcohol dependency issues are at the center of every argument and things become dysfunctional and fast. The addict or alcoholic may begin lying, cheating and stealing and no longer prioritizes the spouse as they should. This often leaves couples considering divorce for the sake of the overall health of the home. However, marriages can be restored once treatment is sought.
When the person struggling with addiction is a teenager this can also cause discord in the family. Siblings can become neglected as all of the attention is placed on the addicted teen. Tensions rise between the parents and the marriage becomes threatened as disagreements erupt regularly. These dynamics can set up families for life long dysfunction and resentments if not addressed and dealt with early on. Every child in a family deserves love and care from their parents. It is not fair to the siblings of addicts to not get the attention they deserve. One child should not consume all of their parents time and resources. Siblings should get counseling to work through their feelings of neglect and resentment. Family counseling is also available and can be very beneficial to putting the pieces back together once again. Families do not have to suffer in silence.
There are many rehab facilities that incorporate families into their treatment programs. They do this through family days where the families will get an opportunity to work through their issues and start to heal through intense counseling sessions. This will foster a fresh start for the family once treatment is completed.
Al-Anon is an option for family members of alcoholics. Al-Anon follows a similar format as AA meetings but they are geared to the family members. These group meetings provide support, coping tools, a safe place to share about shared struggles and much more. It is a great support system for those who have family members who are alcoholics. It provides an opportunity to be connected with those who face similar familial issues that they may not find in their personal friend group. It reassures these family members they are not alone in their sufferings and that many many families face similar struggles and they can learn from and lean on each other. There are many local Al-Anon groups that meet regularly.
When someone finally seeks out treatment it is important that all of the unhealthy dynamics at play can be addressed. All members of the family can begin their path to peace and healing and work towards obtaining familial harmony once again. The good news is that all of this can be achieved and improved upon over time and families can rebuild the trust and relationships they once shared.
There are many ways you can assist your loved one in getting the help they need. You can plan an intervention, send them to a rehab if financial resources are available, research AA or NA meetings they can attend immediately, enroll them in a detox program,, set up counseling appointments, ask for help from family and friends, seek out resources from the community, and work towards creating a happy, healthy and loving environment where recovery can be achieved. The key is to start somewhere and do not stop and until all involved are getting the help they need. No families should have to suffer the painful consequences drugs and alcohol can have on all. It is important not to solely focus on the addict or alcoholic but all family members negatively impacted.
Treatment specialists are often available to help point you in the right direction and help you discover all the resources available to families. It is important to ask them for help if you are unsure about what to do. While the person receives treatment for their addiction it will comfort them knowing their family members are working towards becoming healthy again as well. When they complete treatment the family unit can work together as a whole to sustain long lasting sobriety and function healthily once again. Do not wait to get help. Call Orchard on the Brazos today and let us help to start healing you and your family today.