Getting Help for Families of Addicts
Addiction can be a terrible and life-changing ordeal. With so many people dealing with addiction, it may be easy to miss the importance of family support in overcoming the issue. Drug addiction can lead to severe breaks in family cohesion, and as a result, individuals suffering from substance use disorder are isolated from their families. This isolation is primarily because the family doesn’t understand that addiction is a disease in several cases. This lack of understanding may be due to not having enough information on the topic in the public domain. Families of addicts suffer as much as the person suffering from the addiction. But how do these families find the help and support they need to be there for their loved ones?
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Why Do Families Need Help with Addiction?
Addiction is a family ordeal more often than not. Each family member will deal with a person suffering from substance use disorder differently. How they approach the individual who has the problem depends on how they view the situation and the person. Prejudices rise to the surface very often in these cases, as individuals project their feelings and rationalize their actions because of the addicted person’s behavior.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult for most to separate addiction from the person with substance use disorder. Family forms such a close bond that the person with substance use disorder is categorized based on their current behaviors. This classification is unfair, but it happens more often than not. Families notice a change in behavior and attempt to cut the individual out of the family circle to protect those that may be more vulnerable. Addiction can stem from family behavior or feelings, and this type of family response isolates the individual and makes them resentful. For families to truly aid the person suffering from substance use disorder, they need the support to understand and cope with its impact on their family members.
Education And Support Groups for Families With Addiction
Many rehabilitation centers offer support groups that can help families with a member suffering from substance use disorder. Much of the blame families heap on their suffering loved ones stems from a lack of understanding and education about the condition. Most people assume that a person suffering from substance use disorder has a choice in their decisions. However, science tells us that addiction is a brain disease that makes it impossible to make logical decisions. By helping families understand the differences between a choice and an involuntary compulsion, rehab centers like Emerald Isle contribute to repairing family fractures.
Education can also come from peer support groups. Rehab centers also create and maintain these family peer groups that help other family members learn and accept the individual who has the substance use disorder. These groups provide emotional support and can also direct a family to valuable resources such as books or videos online that can help to explain the condition further. No addiction is precisely the same as another, and as such, it’s a very personal struggle each person suffering from substance use disorder has to go through.
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Dysfunctional Roles Found in Families Of Addiction
Once families have been exposed to addiction, they develop certain archetypes or “roles” to help them cope with the situation. Among the roles that family members may adopt are:
- The Hero or Savior: This individual tries to offset the shame and disappointment the family feels about the addicted person by being the “shining star” of the family. They are high achievers and never let the family down. Because they are concerned with keeping up appearances, they may cover up the addicted person’s problems and pretend that they don’t need help.
- The Lost Child: This person tends to avoid confrontation with the family and disconnects themselves from the family. They don’t drain the family’s emotional resources by ensuring that they don’t create more problems. Unfortunately, they usually suffer mentally and emotionally in private as a result.
- The Mascot: This individual is the comic relief of the group and tries to ensure everyone is happy and smiling all the time. Unfortunately, the humor is sometimes aimed at the addicted person. The use of fun can help others, but it may become a maladaptive coping skill with time.
- The Rescuer/Caregiver: This person makes excuses for the person suffering from substance use disorder. Because the rescuer excuses poor behavior, they encourage the addicted person to push boundaries. Unless they change their approach, they may hinder a person from overcoming their addiction.
- The Scapegoat: This unfortunate individual is typically blamed for everything that goes wrong. They are a known troublemaker, but by creating their own problems, they serve to distract the family from the addicted person and their troubles.
These dysfunctional roles do little to help a person suffering from substance use disorder. In some cases, they create the perfect environment to shelter and hide the person from the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, the family can only do so much, and many of these individuals fall victim to their behaviors and end up on the wrong side of the law. Proper family support can help avoid this eventuality and significantly change the script.
Learning Healthy Boundaries and Family Communication
Family communication is a core part of ensuring that addicted people can reach out when they need to and get help from their family members. Communication skills teach a person how to reach out successfully and establish a rapport. However, communication isn’t just about talking. Active listening can clue a person into what their recovering family member needs. Communicating with a person in the right way encourages them to do the right thing. However, approaching communication wrongly will drive the person away and even make them wary about coming for help in the future.
Communication can also help a family establish healthy boundaries. Just because a person is suffering from a disease doesn’t excuse their behavior. Ensuring that they understand that terrible behavior is unacceptable is a crucial move toward helping their recovery. Holding addicted people accountable for their actions can shape how they view addiction and push them to stick with their recovery plan.
The Role of Family Therapy
Some families don’t like the idea of going to therapy because it suggests that something is wrong. Unfortunately, this mindset can have a devastating effect on someone trying to recover from addiction. Going to treatment shouldn’t be shunned but should be taken as a commitment to help a recovering person overcome their struggle with addiction. Dealing with an addicted person can lead to severe stress on some family members. As mentioned before, this could lead to family members developing archetypal roles that hinder recovery. Therapy can help address the formation of these roles and give family members healthy alternatives to assist their loved ones.
Additionally, family members’ interpersonal relationships are typically affected by their relation to the addicted person. Spouses and children who form the extended family may suffer because of their relationship. Coping with this may require family therapy. It’s impossible to save someone if struggling on one’s own. Family therapy offers the support a family needs to help their loved one.
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The Role of Interventions In Addiction Recovery
Interventions can be a valuable tool if executed properly. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t, leading to recriminations and family disputes. Ideally, a family should contact a professional to plan the intervention so that they don’t alienate their loved one. Interventions are aggressive, but each family member should be present to show that they really care about the addicted person. The family forms a core part of an intervention, but they aren’t the only people that should be welcome. An addicted person’s close personal circle might also help them see the error of their ways and should be welcomed into the intervention as well.
It’s tempting to think about doing an intervention without a trained professional since it requires less scheduling. However, a bad intervention can drive an addicted person deeper into their addiction. The intervention involves family members and loved ones confronting the individual about their behavior and pointing out how their lives are being ruined. It’s vital to understand that this isn’t about pushing blame on an addicted person but about showing them the error of their ways. Trained professionals can moderate this to create a more conducive environment for the addicted person to deal with their problem.
Find Help for Your Family at Emerald Isle Health & Recovery
Where would you find help for a family with a loved one dealing with substance use disorder? Emerald Isle was established to help both recovering persons and their families overcome addiction together. With professionally trained staff and counselors, we can offer family therapy or advice to help them help their loved ones. If you’ve got someone in your family that you think needs help with their addiction, call us today to find out how you can help. We’re always glad to give families a lifeline. Contact us now to find out more!
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