Addiction and alcoholism are not just a matter of curing the addict or alcoholic, the family also needs to acknowledge their pain and get help.
As Al-Anon states, families and friends are relieved and surprised when they learn they didn’t cause the alcoholism, they can’t cure it and they can’t control it.
The family with an alcoholic or substance abuser becomes dysfunctional and falls into chaos and crisis. It is no longer a healthy vibrant system. As the substance abuse progresses the family also becomes unwell: socially, financially, mentally, emotionally and even physically – with poor health resulting from various stress-related issues.
Spiritually there is a loss of hope and an end to contentment. Family members are unable to separate the illness from the person they love, so there is conflict between loving the substance abuser and holding them in contempt. An environment of trust, courtesy, respect, love and kindness is replaced with one of suspicion, fear, betrayal, depression and resentment.
Co-dependency develops as a response to the chaotic conditions in the family of the alcoholic/drug addict and produces unhealthy patterns of relating and behavior. Often co-dependents develop compulsions of their own and a loss of control very similar to that of the substance abuser.
Dysfunctional emotions, thinking and reactions between family members and the alcoholic or drug addict begin as coping mechanisms to help the family survive as they start experiencing deep emotional pain, but these soon become self-defeating. Co-dependency patterns may include controlling, perfectionism, repression of emotions, oppressive rules, a lack of true intimacy, and behavioral addictions, such as overworking, overspending, overeating, religiosity, etc.
Families with members suffering drug addiction or alcoholism also have patterns of denial. They fail to acknowledge the extent or progression of the problem. Types of denial include anger, blame, minimizing the problem, excuses, evasion and deflection. Denial blinds the alcoholic or substance abuser and their family from recognizing the truth.
Enabling is a common response to addiction that takes many forms. It allows the alcoholic or drug addict to avoid the consequences of his or her substance abuse and behavior. The enabler is a friend or family member who tries to help the alcoholic or drug addict and who will lie for and rescue the substance abuser or alcoholic from various calamities. While the enabler may think he or she is helping the person with an addiction the opposite is true. Enablers allow the disease of addiction to progress to more acute levels.
I believe the client’s recovery is contingent on their family’s recovery. That’s why treatment should include educational and family group therapy sessions. In this safe environment both the addict/alcoholic and the family can be given an opportunity to begin the healing of the sometimes catastrophic consequences of their substance abuse.
Self-care and the care of other family members must become the priority. Don’t allow the family life to be overshadowed by the negativity of addiction. Alcoholism and drug addiction can cause isolation, guilt and shame. By breaking the cycle of silence and denial both the addict or alcoholic and their loved ones can begin to understand, release shame and process bottled-up feelings. They learn that everyone is responsible – no one is to blame.
Family members need to realize that they need help regardless of the addict’s or alcoholic’s commitment to recovery. They can begin by focusing on their own pain, learning about the disease and detaching from the alcoholic or drug addict with love.
I am constantly amazed by the reconciliation and healing that families experience when they reach out for help.
– Sharon Jackson
You should know that there is a substance abuse treatment that can effectively deal with this condition and it can be found in drug treatment center. If a sufferer will enroll to a drug rehab program, it will lead for a more efficient approach towards the condition.
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