Addiction affects not just the addict, but also the addict’s entire family. When a family faces addiction, it is important to find counseling and support for the entire family and not just the addict.
How Addiction Affects Families
One family member’s addiction can greatly affect other family members. The entire family can be caught up in the problems caused by addiction. They may resent the addict for the problems she caused, and conversely, the addicted member may blame parents or siblings for situations that caused or contributed to the addiction. Addicts typically become defensive when confronted about drug use, and the entire atmosphere can become heated and tense, leading to anger, resentment, and a breakdown in communication.
Ways to Cope with a Loved One’s Addiction
Effective ways to cope with the addiction of a loved one include but are not limited to the following ideas:
- Remember that addiction is a disease of the mind. It dominates a user’s thought processes and is more powerful than the person’s will to control it.
- Your loved one is under the influence of mind-altering substances, therefore he does not think or act rationally
- Make it clear to your loved one that, although you are concerned about the addiction, you still love him unconditionally. Let him know that you want what is best and that you will always be there to provide encouragement and emotional support.
- Be supportive, but do not enable addictive behavior
- Even though you may be angry about the toll the addiction is taking on the family, resist the temptation to act out in anger. Your loved one probably feels a tremendous amount of guilt over the addiction, her inability to stop using drugs, and the effect it has on others. Guilt can exacerbate the depression that commonly accompanies addiction and can lead to an increased need to escape further into drug use.
- Support your loved one in any decision to seek treatment
- Do not attempt to coerce your loved one into treatment as this is likely to make her feel attacked and cornered
- If you think an intervention is necessary, consult a professional interventionist. You may have good intentions, but untrained family members can do more harm than good.
- Get in touch with a good rehab center or drug addiction counselor; they can help you arrange treatment if the person agrees, and can also answer questions, give you invaluable advice, and put you in touch with support groups for families of drug addicts
- Attend family counseling
If you want to get over your loved one’s addiction, all you must do is reach out for help.