Did you know addiction in families is such a common occurrence that 1 in 8 minors lived with a parent (or more) who has had a substance abuse disorder in the past year?
This can have negative effects on the child that can persist through their adult lives. They may form negative habits or negative emotions that can impair their daily lives.
The sober parent will also develop issues from the addiction of the other parent. Furthermore, it may strain their relationship with their siblings and their own parents.
This is why addiction is a family disease – it affects the whole family and even friends. This is also why treatment for addiction is something the whole family must go through. Read on to find out how the family can work through it together.
Why Addiction is a Family Disease
A family is a system in which the parts are all connected to each other. Each unit may have different purposes, but the way one moves affects the way all others move. Hence, when one part changes, it affects the stability of the home and may form stresses on the system.
Think of the family members as the wheels of a car – all must go in one direction so the whole family can move forward. When one tire goes missing, the whole thing becomes unstable and dangerous.
That's why you can consider addiction as a family disease. It causes harm to the unity of the family and the health of the individual members. An addicted person usually disregards his/her responsibilities at home, which might lead others to shoulder that responsibility, which might then cause resentment.
A worse scenario is when the troubled member becomes violent to the other members. When worse comes to worst, the family may end up cutting ties with the addicted person.
Likewise, treating addiction is also a family affair. This is because the patient needs support from the ones closest to him/her during this process. The kind of support they get will determine whether they will have a successful recovery.
Even if family members are successful in making the first push toward recovery, drug addicts can still go into relapse. For instance, they must force the addict to receive further treatment after detoxification process, even if they already feel well. The ones who go through this first step without treatment will most likely go back to using drugs.
How to Work Through Addiction as a Family
Families have different ways to cope with addiction in the family, but there are wrong ways to do it. To learn what to do instead, consider our tips below on working through addiction as a family unit.
1. Learn About Addiction
There are a lot of studies of drug abuse on the internet, which can help change the mindset of families about it. They may recognize that the addicted person needs help, not anger or violence to make them snap out of it.
Since addiction is a medical condition, addicted people are patients that need medical treatments, too. Learning about its causes and treatments can also make families hopeful about recovery.
2. Recognize the Addiction
First, the family must intervene when they see signs of addiction in a family member. Many families choose to remain silent in hopes that the addicted one will work it out themselves. It's rare that this course of action works out for all parties – if it happens at all.
Treatment begins with seeking it. If the addicted person isn't doing it themselves, the family must help him/her toward it.
If you have a family member who's addicted, don't be afraid to call them out on it. Communicate with the other family members and stage an intervention to help the troubled member realize their wrongdoings and know that they can seek help with the support of the whole family.
3. Don't Provide Support
Too often, families get duped into thinking that one has changed and they only need one last push to complete the transition. They may lend money to help the addicted person pay their bills, for example. However, this only worsens the whole situation.
This only allows them to continue acting that way as they know they'll get help when they need it. In this example, they'll continue to spend their own money on drugs since someone will be paying their bills.
Another way to provide unhelpful support is to shoulder their responsibilities. A husband with an addicted wife, for instance, may pull double shifts when the wife loses her job due to drugs. A parent may shoulder the house chores assigned to their addicted child since he/she can't do it anymore.
The husband and the parent in these examples are solving the problems for the addict. Yes, this can make them feel bad in the short-term. Still, it's favorable to the addict in the long-term since they don't have to worry about anything else.
Unless what you're giving is medical help, resist the urge to “help.” They need to feel the consequences of their actions. This can help them wake up and seek treatment for themselves.
4. Go to Family Therapy Sessions
As addiction is hard for the whole family, everyone needs to recover from it, too. It can help break down the anger, stress, guilt, distrust, and other negative feelings that the family has accumulated.
These family therapy sessions have a high success rate in transforming the dynamic of the family into a well-tuned one. These can help resolve conflicts and help understand the struggles of the addict, as well.
This may also help resolve the reason why the person turned to drugs in the first place. The sessions will help the family identify it and then they can work through it on their own terms.
Get the Right Treatment for Addiction
As addiction is a family disease, it's the family who must take initiative in finding the right treatment. It should have studies backing it as a reliable form of treatment and not DIY treatments off the internet. If you need any help, don't hesitate to contact us today and let us help you work through it as a family.