Tag Archives: Family

Alcoholism and Drug Addiction are Family Diseases

 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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Family Dynamics of Addiction and Recovery – How to “Let Go” to Regain Your Own Peace of Mind

What are you afraid of? Fear and anxiety are part and parcel of daily life with familial addiction. Fear is a paintbrush that colors almost all aspects of family life. Some fears are easily recognizable in an addicted family: “What if he gets arrested?” “When am I going to get the call in the middle of the night saying that she has died in a drunk driving wreck?” “I never know when I write a check if there will be any money in the bank to cover it.” “He may decide that he wants to change careers again for the third time this year.”

Family members experience a variety of fears living in an addicted system. All kinds of survival roles and behaviors develop to attempt to minimize the fear, anxiety, and general pain of not knowing what will happen next, and to deal with the dysfunction happening in the present. With so much turmoil going on, it is no surprise that family members feel compelled to establish some kind of control.

The need for control becomes compulsive. The more the persistent attempts to recover or maintain control, the more the emotional discomfort increases, rather than decreases. When family members are instructed to “let go of control”, it usually initially makes no sense to them. If they don’t have control, (or at least try to), who will?

They work extremely hard pursuing an illusion of control. Every time they think that they have figured out something that will work to minimize the drinking or the detrimental consequences of the drinking, it won’t work the next time they attempt it. They keep trying the same things over and over, not being able to believe that letting go, would actually reduce their emotional turmoil rather than increasing it.

Letting go of the drive to manage others is a notion that may initially be incomprehensible. When you think about your previous attempts to stage-manage not only the lives of your family members and the real affect of your efforts, you can identify that your efforts do not work – with predictability and consistency.

Attempts to remain in control of the details and events of one’s life and environment are about trying to manage anxiety and trying to solve problems. It is very difficult to solve the problems that belong to someone other than yourself. You typically will not get much cooperation.

While there seems to be a contradictory relationship between “letting go” and empowerment, if you are compulsively trying to resolve the problems that do not belong to you, you will not have the time and energy to solve the problems that are your responsibility. One of the things learned in the twelve step recovery program for family members of alcoholics is that faith in a “power greater than yourself” helps to abolish the fear, while you are practicing “letting go” of others.

The actual mechanics of how to let go is somewhat more illusive. “Letting go” is not the same thing as detachment with anger or “emotional cutoff.” “Letting go with love” involves accepting the reality that you actually don’t have authority over others’ feelings, decisions, and behavior. It involves giving up responsibility for others’ business. Letting go allows others the dignity to assume responsibility for their own lives. Giving up the illusion of control of others empowers family members to decide how they can genuinely live their lives in the fullest way possible.

For a beginning effort to let go, first identify the ways in the past, that you have tried to assert control over your significant other.  Identify exactly how those attempts have not worked over time, consistently.  Identify the negative consequences of those efforts on your own life. To continue your efforts in letting go, when you feel compelled to step in, ask yourself, “Whose business is this?” If it’s not your business, stay out of it. If you answer yourself, “It is my business because his/her behavior affects me”, then identify where your power and your responsibilities lie. Then, take custody of your own responsibilities in the situation.

How do you know that you are letting go? You don’t spend your day worrying about what someone else is doing or not doing. You don’t step in to solve someone else’s problems, then feel compelled to sell the solution to them. You don’t spend your energy trying to determine out how you can take charge of your own needs after you have used all your resources taking control of someone who should be taking care of themselves. You find that you often have serenity even amidst the presence of life’s ups and downs and problems.

Dr. Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D., LADC, LMFT, Marriage/Family Therapist and Alcohol/Drug Counselor. http://www.peggyferguson.com

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Fun Family Traditions Site Releases New Stress Relief Digital Manual in Dinner Talk Style

Logan, Utah (PRWEB) September 22, 2008

The “Dinner Talk People” at Epicworld Web site have released a new digital stress relief manual in honor of Family Day. With illustrated epic stories in easy dinner talk style, the digital manual, Escape to Epic World, by C.A. Davidson, offers a 5 step process or journey of discovery. Daily family meals are the first step in stress relief for parents and in preparing their children for successful adulthood.

According to this manual, stress management is not a single activity– it is a process, a way of life. In Escape to Epic World, this process is organized into five steps.

Step 1. “Family Gathering.” Family meals are the first step toward the “happy ending” all parents want for their families. For many, the back-to-school season is a convenient time to gather the family and loved ones as a support group, and begin enjoying daily dinner talk together.

Studies by The Center for Addictions and Substance Abuse show that children who have daily family meals 1)abuse drugs less 2) eat more nutritious meals 3) do better in school. Those with the family meal habit are discovering an additional benefit of stress relief.

Step 2. “Prepare Every Needful Thing.” Stress for children often comes from the unknown and unexpected. Preparing ahead of time for potential stressors and difficult circumstances empowers them to cope more effectively and find peace of mind.

Step 3. “Landmarks.” For parents who would like their children to read good books, this section provides discussion topics from classic literature. In his epic masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien speaks of having “eyes that know what to look for.” This step gives young people increased understanding of epic literature and their own character development.

Step 4. “Epic Quest.” Managing the day-to-day routine with a measured pace, prioritizing the important activities, and simplifying “busy-ness” can reduce stress. Finding an expanded perspective reduces stress for children and helps parents avoid burn-out.

Step 5. “Return Home Triumphant.” In this section, parents find ways to help their children “discover the epic hero within.” William James said, “The greatest use of our life is to spend it on something that outlasts it.” Children with a sense of purpose do not merely survive the teenage years– they thrive.

Epicworld has also established a new web page with stress relief tips. The site and book are not clinical or professional in nature. The site offers time and stress management tips and other resources. The book is a collection of epic stories which provide a “retreat” from the stresses of life, giving strength and encouragement at the same time.

The book points out that since we cannot totally remove stress from our lives, what we need is a place of privacy or safety, a refuge, or a retreat. A retreat does not mean defeat, but rather a temporary oasis, where one can be refreshed and strengthened. The author calls this retreat “Epic World”, or the world of epic stories– a realm of beautiful nature and music, epic heroes, inspiration, learning, and adventure.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “epic” as “otherwise called heroic. . . which narrates a story. . . in an elevated style. . . usually the achievements of some distinguished hero, and intended to form the morals and affect the mind with the love of virtue. The end [ purpose] is to improve morals, and inspire a love of virtue, bravery and illustrious actions.”

Examples of epic stories include J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, and C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Excellent examples of epic literature are also found in the scriptures.

“Epic literature can give us a reservoir of strength to draw on when needed, ” Davidson writes. “Then in times of challenge, we discover increased capacity to manage the stress in our lives.”