Drug and alcohol abuse knows no boundaries. Even the most loving and supportive families can find themselves caught with their loved one in the downward spiral of substance abuse. It can start with something as innocent as an injury or a surgery, where someone you care about is given opioids for pain control. Some families learn a child or sibling had their first taste of alcohol at a trusted friend’s house, or a son or daughter used a roommate’s prescription drugs to stay awake during finals. No matter how drugs or alcohol found their way in, the right help for your daughter, sister, parent or partner can save her life. But the person struggling with the abuse isn’t the only one dealing with the fallout from addiction. The right support for you and your family can make all the difference in how you cope with this emotional roller coaster.
Addiction and the Family
One of the most difficult things to overcome when dealing with an addicted loved one is the need to protect and help. Family members, especially parents, often feel compelled to make excuses for the addiction as it consumes more of their child. Calling in to work, lying to cover up missing family gatherings, supplying her habit or trying to keep her from using without help are all enabling behaviors. But you can’t control another person’s choices. The only thing you can control is your response.
Image Source: The Oaks Treatment
Enabling only puts off the inevitable “hitting rock bottom” and delays life-saving treatment. According to Karen Khaleghi Ph.D., for Psychology Today, “by stepping in to “solve” the addict’s problems, the enabler takes away any motivation for the addict to take responsibility for his or her own actions. Without that motivation, there is little reason for the addict to change. Enablers help addicts dig themselves deeper into trouble.”
Recognizing enabling behaviors and finding treatment for your loved one are just the beginning when it comes to coping with another person’s addiction. Family support groups and counseling services are there to help you walk through the process and heal together. When an addicted loved one enters treatment, family members are often amazed at the relief that follows. This can lead to feelings of guilt because they weren’t able to “fix” an unfixable situation. The emotions that come with having addiction in the family are real and need validating by others who understand. The right therapy can help heal your family while your addicted loved one is in treatment. After treatment, support groups and therapy provide you with the tools you need for healthy communication going forward.
Image Source: Dual Diagnosis
Written by Patti Richards
A writer for Foundations Recovery Network.
If your loved one struggles with addiction, we are here for you and your family. Please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today we are here to help and happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors.