When it comes to addiction, it is not just those with the illness who are affected. If you live with an addict, then you know the destruction and damage this illness can cause to the dynamics of the family. Every single member of a family is affected by one member’s addiction, and dealing with the fallout of the illness can be stressful and upsetting.
Addiction often results in damage to relationships, financial hardship, and a number of health issues for both the person with the illness and those closest to him or her.
How Addiction Affects the Family
Addiction changes the way the brain functions and, as a result, it changes the way a person behaves. However, dealing with a loved one’s changed behaviour can have a significant impact on family members too. A loved one’s addiction can affect family member’s outlook on life and can result in major changes in the structure of the family unit.
Children are particularly affected, even if they do not fully understand what is going on. In many families, adults choose to keep children in the dark about one member’s addiction because they think that this is the best thing for them. Nevertheless, choosing to keep the truth from children can cause a host of emotional problems, both now and in the future.
Young children do not really understand the illness that is addiction and often experience feelings of guilt and confusion. It is not uncommon for young children to blame themselves for their parent’s (if it is one of the parents that is addicted) behaviour. This can be further compounded when, for example, an addicted parent tells the child that they (the child) are the reason he or she (the parent) drinks or takes drugs.
Older children may know exactly what is going on, but understanding what addiction is does not make it any easier to deal with. Children who understand that a parent has an addiction may be ashamed or embarrassed and might then feel guilty for feeling this way.
At Addiction Helper, we know the immense effect that addiction has on the family, and because of that, we believe that family support is essential. Many of the clinics and charities we work with offer family therapy to ensure that all members of the family unit get the support and advice they need to overcome this devastating illness.
Coping with a Family Member’s Addiction
We know that many addicts live in denial regarding their addiction. It can be frustrating for loved ones to try to get these individuals to accept that they have a problem. Unfortunately, the reality is that this person cannot be forced to get help if he or she does not want it.
Forcing someone into rehab before this individual is ready is counterproductive and will only serve to make the problem worse. What you can do, however, is encourage your loved one to recognise his or her problem and make them understand the damage that addiction is doing to themselves and the people they love. Here at Addiction Helper, we offer advice and support to those with addiction, but we also provide family support to those who need it.
We know that addiction is something that you, as a loving family member, need to understand. We can offer you advice and information on the illness and give you a better insight into how your loved one is affected. Our team of professional counsellors, therapists and support staff are on standby to take your call and to help you make some sense of your current situation. Call today for information on how we can help you to cope with your loved one’s addiction.
Supporting a Loved One Through Addiction
While it is crucial that all family members are supported when one member has an addiction, it is equally important that those recovering from addiction have the support of their family members. Difficult as it may be to deal with addiction, it is harder to do so without the support of loved ones.
If you are the affected person, knowing that your family members are behind you and want to help you get through addiction can be a huge motivation. If you have finally plucked up the courage to admit that addiction is a problem and one that needs help, family support is going to be really important.
If you have been dealing with a family member’s addiction for a long time, you may have been lied to and manipulated by this person. Addicts learn very quickly what they need to do to get what they want. If it means lying to the people they love, then so be it. They cannot control their urges and they will steal and cheat anyone in order to allow them to continue with their habit.
They also become experts at telling people what these people want to hear. So, you have probably had numerous promises broken and been left feeling disappointed countless times. Family members often find it difficult to understand why a person will continue to drink or take drugs when they know the consequences. This can lead to anger and resentment and can put a huge strain on relationships. Some relationships are broken beyond repair.
What many individuals fail to realise is that when the addict makes a promise to never drink or take drugs again, he or she may actually believe what they are saying. At that point, they may be feeling ashamed of their actions and will genuinely believe that they can stop. Nevertheless, once the urge takes over again, he or she cannot control it and will be unable to keep their promise.
As previously mentioned, support for family members is available here at Addiction Helper and from the organisations we work with. We understand the importance of family support and it being vital for those recovering from addiction, but we also believe that because addiction affects the entire family, therapy and counselling should be available to the whole family unit.
If you or someone you love is dealing with addiction, contact Addiction Helper today.