Unhealthy Ways Families Cope With Addiction
Addiction impacts every aspect of the family dynamic, including finances, behavioral roles, stability at home, and the mental, physical, and spiritual health of each family member. 1 If left untreated, addiction may very well destroy the family, leaving nothing behind but the broken pieces of what used to be.
Help Get Family Support To Deal With A Drug Addicted Or Alcoholic Spouse
Addiction can take a toll on any marriage. It can create a variety of problems for couples including financial hardship, arguments, trust issues, legal problems, and codependent behaviors. Loving a spouse with a substance use problem creates a unique set of challenges that only a person who has experienced it firsthand can truly understand. Support groups can provide spouses of addicted loved ones with the support of a group of peers who can relate to their struggle.
All of the support groups listed above provide supportive services to spouses and other family members of addicted people.
There are also supportive programs available exclusively for spouses, including:
- Recovering Couples Anonymous: Recovering Couples Anonymous is a support program that uses the principles of AA but is not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous. They provide support groups for any couple who is suffering from addictions or other dysfunctions that are impacting their relationships. The only requirement to join Recovering Couples is that the couple is committed to remain together, to work on improving their relationship, and to deepen their intimacy with one another. They are currently offering meetings in 15 U.S. states.
- Al-Anon for Spouses and Partners: In some locations, Al-Anon offers special support programs for spouses and romantic partners of individuals with alcoholism. Check their website to find out what programs may be available near you.
Some Things That You Can Do Include:
- Find out with regards to the signs and indications of substance use.
- Notice the individuals conduct intently over a time of days or weeks to get what drives you to think there is an issue. This data will be great if you consult with other relatives about the circumstance, look for guidance from an expert, or talk straightforwardly with the individual.
- Offer your thoughts to other relatives and companions to decide how they see the circumstance. If they concur there is an issue, sort out who will converse with the individual about finding addiction support for families.
- Contact an addiction expert, emotional wellness proficient, doctor, or other professionals to aid you. Depict your relatives substance use behavior to see whether the expert would consider it an issue.
- Guarantee that you and other relatives are protected from possible physical or mental damage. If there is a danger or probability of actual brutality, you ought to foster a security plan.
Overall, there are many support groups for families of addicts, and you need not worry about this issue.
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Recognizing Drug Abuse In A Loved One
Its not always easy to recognize if a loved one is abusing drugs. In teens, for example, drug abuse can often resemble normal adolescent moodiness. Furthermore, theres no specific amount or frequency of use that indicates someones drug use has become a cause for concern. Whether your loved one is using every day or every month, its the adverse impact their drug abuse has on their life that indicates a problem.
Signs your loved one may have a substance use disorder include:
Experiencing problems at work, school, or home. They appear high more often, for example, and take more days away from work or school to compensate. Their work performance or school grades suffer, they neglect their responsibilities at home, and encounter more and more relationship difficulties. They may even lose their job, drop out of school, or separate from a long-term partner.
New health issues, such as changes in sleep schedule, often appearing fatigued or run-down, pronounced weight loss or weight gain, glassy or bloodshot eyes, and forgetfulness or other cognition problems. Depending on the type of drug theyre abusing, they may also exhibit frequent sniffing, nosebleeds, or shaking.
Recurring financial problems. Your loved one may run up credit card debt to support their drug use, seek loans, or ask to borrow money without any solid reason. They may even steal money or valuables to sell for drugs.
Addiction Affects Everyone Not Just The Person Struggling With Substance Misuse Here Are 10 Tips That Can Help Family Members Cope With A Loved Ones Addiction
In 2019, about 5.3% percent of Americans aged 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder, the clinical term for an alcohol addiction. Furthermore, as of 2020, 13.5% of people aged 12 and older reported using an illegal drug within the past month.
These statistics represent millions of people struggling with substance misuse and addiction, and nearly all of these people have family members and friends rooting for their eventual recovery. Families play a large role in the recovery process, so it is important for spouses, siblings, parents, children, friends and others to understand how to help.
If youre a family member of someone struggling with addiction, you may have many questions and concerns, such as:
- How to deal with addiction
- How to support your loved one
- Finding support groups for families of individuals who live with addictions
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The Pros And Cons Of Drug Rehab Centers
ARTICLE OVERVIEW: The goal of rehab is to learn how to live a drug-free life. If you truly wish to get better a stay in rehab can be just the right thing. Here, we examine some of the PROs and CONs of residential treatment for addiction. Then, we …
Support Groups For Children Of Parents With Abuse And Addiction Problems
Of all family members, children may be most impacted by substance abuse and addiction. Children of drug addicts often grow up in a chaotic world full of stress, traumatic experiences, and confusion.1 Drug addiction can take over a persons life and prevent them from being a good parent to their children. Children of addicts may be neglected, abused, ignored, dismissed, or fully abandoned.
Addiction can also take a toll on adult children when parents start abusing drugs after their children have already left the house and started lives of their own. These children may end up dealing with their parents addiction in a variety of ways. They may have excessive concern and worry over the parents condition and health. Some may end up covering the costs of living for parents who have financial struggles due to their addiction.
No matter the individual circumstances, addiction can take a toll on children of all ages. There are a variety of support programs and resources available not only to young children, but also to adult children of addicted parents, including the following:
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How To Raise The Subject
People often worry that initiating a discussion with the person with the problem will lead him or her to take drastic steps. They might make a scene in front of other family members, move out of the house, drop out of school, use more excessively, try to hide their problem, or retaliate against them or other family members. However, you might find the conversation to be a wonderfully productive experience. Perhaps the person simply hasnt noticed behavioral changes or doesnt realize that his or her substance use was or is causing a problem. And without change, the problems may become so severe that the same drastic outcomes could result.
Hold The Addict Accountable
Its only natural to want to support a loved one who has a drug problem. The only problem is support can easily turn into enabling when you genuinely care for the addict. Enabling itself can be considered one of the unhealthy addictions. In general, enabling is an action that supports the addicts self-destructive behaviors. Here are a few examples of enabling:
- Loaning the addict money
- Lying for the addict, such as calling into his or her job to request a sick day
- Making excuses for the addicts behavior
- Allowing yourself to be manipulated when you know thats whats happening
- Allowing the addict to threaten your welfare, such as using the rent money to buy drugs
By not enabling these behaviors, youre making the addict accountable for his or her choices and actions. This allows them to actually see the effects of addiction in their lives. It also takes a lot of pressure off of you and other family members.
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Choosing Substance Use Over Family
A substance use disorder is a pattern of behavior which is characterized by compulsive use of a substance despite having negative consequences from using it. It can feel as though your loved one chooses drugs over you or your children. In reality, a person with an addiction may love his or her family very much but may feel unable to control their substance use. Drug addiction alters a persons brain chemistry to the point that they lose the ability to control many of their behaviors.3 These changes to a persons brain are powerful and long-lasting, which is why many people relapse after a period of sobriety.4
Tips For Families Coping With Addiction Around The Holiday Season
Use the Holidays as an opportunity! The Holidays are a special time of year, with many families gathering together for celebrations. We at Enterhealth – a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment company – hope that families realize that this …
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Supporting A Loved Ones Addiction Recovery
Theres no one-size-fits-all solution to overcoming an addiction to drugs, and its rarely a process thats quick or straightforward. While you can support your loved one and encourage treatment, you cant force them to change or control their decision-making. Letting your loved one assume responsibility for their behavior and choices is an important step on their road to sobriety.
Adjust your expectations. Everyone is different. Recovery for one person may mean total abstinence from drugs. For another, it could mean cutting back or staying mostly drug-free. Being too rigid in your expectations can lead to disappointment and a sense of failure, even if your loved one finds stability in their life again.
Encourage your loved one to seek help. While some people are able to quit drugs on their own, the more help and support a person has, the better their chances of success. Offer to sit with your loved one while they call a helpline or accompany them to a doctors appointment, counseling session, or peer support group meeting.
Help plan for triggers and cravings. Your loved one will need to find ways to cope with drug cravings and triggers. You can help distract them with other activities or encourage them to learn how to ride out the urge, but ultimately, they have to be responsible for their own sobriety.
Offer Support But Do Not Enable
Enabling a family members addiction comes in many forms some of which you may not think are enabling, but are.
It is important to recognize the behaviors and actions you and your family are carrying out that allow your drug-addicted loved one to remain in this destructive state.
Enabling can be anything from letting the addicted family member live in your home and abuse substances or carry on with these behaviors while there, or it could be something as simple as making excuses for the person.
Denying someone you love basic care or dignity may seem like a very cruel act. But it takes a lot of love to understand your enabling behavior and take steps to stop it. In the end, these actions can help your loved one on the road to recovery.
Just as important as recognizing enabling behavior is an understanding that now is not the time for blame. Now is the time for action.
Family Help For Different Cultures
You or another family member may have special cultural or language needs. When using a health service in Victoria you have a right to be communicated with in a way that you can understand and that respects your cultural needs. A professional interpreter can be provided at no cost.
You can access interpreters by calling DirectLine service. Ask the person who answers your call to organise this. Make sure you are clear about the language or dialect you speak and mention if you would prefer an interpreter of a particular gender.
Education And Support For Families
When an addiction develops, family members and friends are also often directly impacted by the addiction.9, 10 That is why it is important for family members and friends to have a good understanding of addiction and how to continue to take care of their own health as well. Education can help families escape the blame game. Rather than believing that the person’s substance abuse disorder stems from weakness, willfulness or stubbornness, it is helpful to understand how addiction is associated with changes in the brain.
It is not always easy to live with or support someone who has an addiction. As research points out, addiction in a close relative can serve as a stressful life situation that persists for years, and that long-term dysfunction can make it hard for families to communicate clearly. There can be a block of mistrust between every member of a family touched by the addiction.11 Connecting with peers can help, such as through a program like Al-Anon or Alateen. The goal of these programs is to provide help for families of those with substance use disorder. They also provide a safe, nonjudgmental space where family members can learn about, discuss and cope with an addiction unfolding in their midst. People attend these meetings for many reasons, but one survey12 found that many participants were drawn to meetings because they were hoping for help with:
Table 1. Support Groups for Family Members and Friends
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Encourage Them To Seek Help
Trust is a key factor in this step.
In Step 7, we talked about love and support replacing intimidation and guilt. Once you have established that approach, encouragement comes next.
While some drug rehab centers and support groups utilize the tough love approach, we believe you can get just as far or further with encouragement. You may be asking yourself at this point, how can you love and encourage while at the same time setting boundaries and looking out for yourself first?
When healthy boundaries are set and you are putting you first, you are more able to freely share love and empathy. You have made the decision to not let that person harm you or take advantage of you or whatever the boundary is you have set.
Once any negative feelings and emotions about the person or situation have taken a back seat, you can begin to take a more objective approach to the problem and motivate them to start getting help.
What To Avoid When Helping A Loved One With A Drug Addiction
Arguments or blame are not helpful and can increase feelings of stress, anger, and defensiveness.2 If you feel overwhelmed or your loved one is resistant, avoid pressing the issue if they dont want to talk. Come back to the discussion later when they are more receptive, or you are both feeling less emotional.
Its important to maintain trust when helping someone with an addiction. They need to feel that youre on their side. Some of the things to avoid include:2, 12
- Talking to them when they are under the influence.
- Stigmatizing language like referring to the person as an addict or alcoholic.
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What Should You Do In An Emergency
Does your loved one have any of the following symptoms? If so, call 911 or other emergency services immediately.
- Lost consciousness after taking drugs.
- Became unconscious after drinking alcohol, especially if five or more drinks were consumed in a short period of time.
- Had been drinking and is seriously considering suicide.
- Has a history of heavy drinking and has severe withdrawal symptoms, such as confusion and severe trembling. Severe withdrawal symptoms, such as delirium tremens , can cause death.
Resources For Families Coping With Mental And Substance Use Disorders
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for helping a family member who is drinking too much, using drugs, or dealing with a mental illness, research shows that family support can play a major role in helping a loved one with mental and substance use disorders.
When a family member is experiencing a mental or substance use disorder, it can affect more than just the person in need of recovery. Evidence has shown that some people have a genetic predisposition for developing mental and substance use disorders, and may be at greater risk based on environmental factors such as having grown up in a home affected by a family members mental health or history of substance use. Families should be open to the options of support groups or family therapy and counseling, which can improve treatment effectiveness by supporting the whole family.
It is also important to remember that the unique challenges that come from helping a loved one with a mental or substance use disorder can be taxing, so caregivers should take steps to prioritize their own health as well.
Family members may be more likely to notice when their loved ones are experiencing changes in mood or behavior. Being able to offer support, family members can connect those in need with treatment, resources, and services to begin and stay on their recovery journey.
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