Recovery is a journey, not a destination. 40-60% of people with a substance use disorder relapse at some point according to data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. These alarming rates show that the current approach to addiction treatment isn’t as effective as we might hope. When research shows that up to 3 out …
Think about all the things you plan for in life. If you’re like most people, you make arrangements for important things weeks, months, or even years ahead of time. Consider a family trip, for example. Most people don’t decide to take a vacation on a whim. There’s lots of preparation that goes into a trip if you want it to go as smoothly as possible.
You’d never dream of putting off the planning for something as extensive as a family vacation until the last minute. You don’t wait to book your flights and hotel rooms the week before you leave. If you did wait that long, there probably wouldn’t be any more accommodations available. Instead, you make reservations far in advance to ensure there’s enough space for you and your family.
How many times have you backtracked on something that was originally a hard “no”?
The idea that “no” is a complete sentence sounds great in theory but is nearly impossible to put into practice for many people. All healthy relationships are founded on the ability to set limits and maintain healthy boundaries. When you can’t stick to these limits and regularly let people overstep your boundaries, though, it leaves you feeling out of control.
When you watch a loved one struggle with substance abuse, all you want to do is help. It’s heartbreaking to see them trapped in the stop-and-start-again cycle, or maybe trying to quit in the first place. Many people who are clean and sober today credit their time in addiction treatment as the catalyst for change in their life. But do you know how to talk about treatment with your loved one?
No family wants to watch their loved one battle with addiction. Parents want the best for their children, children shouldn’t have to see their parents struggle with substance abuse, and at the end of the day, siblings support one another, too. Watching a family member suffer from substance addiction is an almost unbearable experience for everyone involved.
At the same time, people in active addiction often wear their family members down to their last nerves. Addiction leads people to take advantage of the countless chances they’re given, manipulate family members to get their needs met, and more, which keeps the painful cycle going. What role could your family possibly have in your loved one’s recovery?
If your loved one struggles with substance abuse, you know this familiar pain all too well. You’ve asked kindly, you’ve begged and pleaded, you’ve made threats, or maybe you’ve even given up. You’ve tried everything you can think of to get your loved one to stop using drugs but it seems like nothing you do makes a difference.
The nature vs. nurture debate is common when considering how all kinds of conditions develop. Is it a person’s genetics or environment that causes them to behave the way they do? Are they a product of where they were raised or is their parental gene pool to blame? Can any true answer be that black-and-white?
Nature vs. nurture applies to determining the cause of addiction and alcoholism, too. And determining how someone develops a problem with alcohol or drugs isn’t answered by one or the other. Breaking down the cause of addiction and alcoholism is not as simple as pointing to either nature or nurture.
Many approaches to addiction treatment tend to focus on the addict themselves while the family takes a back seat. Those who work directly with the family members of addicts understand the extent of the problem. They see how the family keeps the addict sick, both in and out of active addiction.
At the same time, most family members focus on the addict as the source of the turmoil. They see the stressful environment that addiction creates and believe the addict is the real problem. Unless prompted, many family members never consider how their own behaviors affect the family environment.
Unfortunately, codependency can be just as harmful as addiction. Though someone with addiction instigates the problems, someone with codependency prolongs them. The two conditions are closely related yet independent of each other at the same time. True healing of the addict comes only with unraveling codependency and healing the family as a whole.
When someone in a family battles alcohol or drug addiction, they tend to receive the most attention. Their unpredictable and often chaotic behavior takes center stage. Unfortunately, addiction affects the whole family, not just the addict. It takes a lot to be directly involved in the life of someone with an addiction.
As their addiction progresses, each member of the family takes on a particular role as they try to cope. Whether the addiction is public knowledge or hidden behind closed doors, every person still struggles. Family members follow familiar patterns while learning to manage their own lives amidst the disarray.
There are 6 main family roles that emerge when someone is in active addiction. Each family is a little different depending on their circumstances. Not all families have someone to fill every role while others have some taking on multiple roles. Understanding the various parts each member plays is crucial when eventually trying to work with and heal the family unit.
Regardless of how someone is attempting to cope with their addictions, or however isolating it may feel, suffering from an addiction affects everyone who comes into contact with the sufferer. No matter how much distance someone tries to put between themselves and others, they will always affect those they love in some way.
Suffering from addiction to drugs or alcohol has a massive impact on your life. No matter how isolated you may feel while suffering from addiction, the effects stretch far beyond your own personal experience. Suffering from an addiction affects everyone – family, friends, and even professional peers. Often, the family takes the brunt of this distress without the addict even being aware of it. Fortunately, recovery can also ripple out and improve the wellbeing of the entire family.