Addiction affects the entire family.
Updated: Jan 2
More often than not, if you have a family member struggling with substance abuse, you too, are struggling. You may be full of guilt, shame, anger or fear but most likely, you are experiencing all of the above. Mostly though, you feel helpless inside. I’ve been there myself, when my son was struggling with addiction and alcoholism. I would lie awake at night full of fear that he may overdose, get killed in an accident, or kill someone else while driving intoxicated. Being in recovery myself, I knew all the dangers that were out there.
Many times, when dealing with these painful circumstances, we have one of two reactions. We may overcompensate and try to “FIX” their problems by giving them money and/or a place to live. Also, we may try to keep them from experiencing the consequences that are usually the result of having a substance abuse problem, such as jail, losing the parental rights of their children or not having a ride to a friend's house. We also may keep OUR hurts and feelings bottled up inside causing us great anxiety and pain.
Sometimes we try to express our love for a family member in active addiction by protecting them from the consequences of their actions, hoping that it may help turn them away from using. In truth, it only enables their addictive behavior more and more and ultimately, we can love them “to death”, quite literally. Robbing someone of the pains and difficulties they have created by choosing to remain in active addiction will keep that person from the very consequences they need to experience in order to recover.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some families completely turn their backs on the addict or alcoholic, pushing them completely out of their lives, which in turn, isolates the addict even further. This isolation will push a struggling user deeper into the shadows and darkness. Meanwhile, their actions justify the deepening anger and bitterness WE feel inside. Jesus loved all people, despite their sins and struggles. Though we may have experienced pain from a struggling addicts actions, completely turning away from the hurting is not the answer. We need to be available if or when they decide they are ready to recover.
Both of those solutions only lead to more dysfunction, hurt and pain within the entire family. We have to find the “middle ground“ where we can supply mercy to the addict or alcoholic we love, but also allow truth. And if necessary, we need to allow consequences to be part of their lives, with the hope that it will ultimately lead to their recovery. The truth is, the more involved we become in someone’s addiction, the less likely our loved one can be expected to overcome it.
“Addiction is a family disease. One person may use, but the whole family suffers.” - @LifeRecoveryGroups
Do any of the following symptoms apply to you?
· You feel guilty for a family member’s unhappiness.
· You blame yourself for your loved one’s issues.
· You are unable to express YOUR feelings and needs.
· You think you must fix a family member's addiction.
Instead of trying to rescue them, you can get help for yourself. Don't wait until it's too late to get help! You can begin your recovery process by going to a local support group or to counseling. The sooner you begin, the quicker you'll be able to learn some tools to help you understand how to react to a loved one’s addiction/alcoholism and the behaviors that accompany it.
You are NOT accountable for your loved one’s choices and actions... but you are accountable for your own. You ARE powerless over your loved one and their addictions, but you are NOT helpless. Start the recovery and healing process today. Check out our website at Liferecovery.info/resources to find resources that may help you begin YOUR recovery journey. You can also reach out to us via chat on the website with any questions you may have.
Contact us for help: firstname.lastname@example.org