Family Services & Support
Addiction can be devastating, not only for the individual struggling but also for their family and friends. Watching from a distance as a loved one battles addiction is emotionally draining, often leaving you feeling helpless and isolated.
But you don’t have to bear this burden alone. There are many resources available to friends and family members of those caught up in addiction.
Understanding a Loved One’s Addiction
Addiction is classified as a family disease by the National Council on Drug Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. It can test the boundaries of even the strongest relationships. Whether you’re a spouse struggling to recognize the person you married, a parent blaming yourself for the heartbreaking road your child is on, or a sibling desperately longing to restore peace in your family, every situation is unique. However, in every situation, there are a few fundamental principles that are important to understand:
Addiction Is Usually Accompanied By Co-Occurring Disorders
Rarely does addiction occur randomly or without a dual diagnosis of depression, anxiety, PTSD, or another psychological disorder. Addressing these underlying conditions is necessary for lasting recovery.
Quitting Cold Turkey Is Extremely Difficult and Usually Dangerous
Withdrawal symptoms like seizures can be physically harmful, and a failed detox period can lead to a dramatic relapse ending in an overdose.
Recovery Is A Lifelong Process
It’s common for one to believe they’ve been “cured” as they emerge from detox and start to feel better physically. It’s important to understand, however, that recovery is not a singular event or milestone. It’s a state of being that the person remains in their whole life.
How To Care For Loved Ones Through Addiction
It’s understandable to want to pull your loved one from the trenches of addiction and make them see reality. Unfortunately, it’s not often possible to force another person to seek help. If a family member or friend does not seek treatment after a thoughtfully planned intervention, you must be prepared to follow through on the consequences you informed them of, no matter how difficult.
Self-care is vital when living in a constant state of turmoil due to someone you love battling addiction. If you struggle mentally or emotionally, it’s important to get support for yourself and not allow your circumstances to wreak havoc.
Be sure to prioritize your own physical health by getting enough sleep, eating well, and staying active. Physical and mental health are closely intertwined, so it’s important not to ignore one or the other.
The most important step you can take in caring for yourself is making sure you’re receiving proper support. You don’t need to isolate yourself or try to handle it alone. In fact, family members often need as much treatment as the individual struggling with addiction. Therapy and support groups are great options to consider for this purpose.
Set and Keep Boundaries
Setting boundaries is another way to care for yourself while loving someone who is addicted. Drawing lines in the sand to protect yourself from undue chaos is not unloving. Boundaries can be fair, logical, and beneficial to all parties involved.
Lastly, educating yourself about the disease your loved one is afflicted by can help foster understanding and compassion. Though you won’t be able to fully put yourself in their shoes, learning can go a long way.
NCADD. (n.d.). Retrieved from Family & Friends (ncadd.us) on 20 June 2023
Kessler, R.C., et al. (January 1996). The Epidemiology of Co-occurring Addictive and Mental Disorders: Implications for Prevention and Service Utilization. Retrieved from THE EPIDEMIOLOGY OF CO‐OCCURRING ADDICTIVE AND MENTAL DISORDERS: Implications for Prevention and Service Utilization – Kessler – 1996 – American Journal of Orthopsychiatry – Wiley Online Library on 20 June 2023.
Saatcioglu, O., et al. (14 March, 2006). Role of family in alcohol and substance abuse. Retrieved from Role of family in alcohol and substance abuse – SAATCIOGLU – 2006 – Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences – Wiley Online Library on 20 June 2023