Addiction as a family
Addictions are stressful and difficult for families and relationships of the addict. While friends and family of a loved one dealing with addiction may be frustrated that the addict can’t just stop using drugs, they may be unknowingly contributing to their loved one’s problem, creating a vicious cycle. The loved one may also turn to behaviors such as lying and stealing from those around them to support their addiction, affecting their relationships with friends and family. The stress and anxiety of dealing with a loved one’s addiction can also take its toll in the form of mental and physical health problems among members of the family trying to support the addict in the process of recovery.
Addiction affects the whole
A family can be thought of as a system, in which each individual has their own way of interacting with the world. Issues within one part of the system – for example, a loved one’s addiction -- will affect the whole system.
Ways that a family member’s addiction can affect other members of the family include:
- A failure for a loved one’s family members to be able to cope with what is happening and why
- Struggling with complicated and conflicting emotions such as guilt, self-blame, anger, anxiety, and fear
- Dealing with the loved one’s irresponsible or erratic behavior
- Long-term anxiety and stress about the loved one’s situation and whether they are still alive
It’s easy to blame a loved one struggling with addiction for their problems; however, family can lead to continuation of the disease. An addict can become very convincing at asking friends and family for money, for example, to continue their addiction – lying that they need money for groceries when they actually are using it to buy drugs.
The relationships of an addict can become unhealthy and form a dynamic of codependency. Loved ones can’t understand why an addict can’t just stop using drugs, and may try to help the addict for years, only to constantly be rejected. This can be very stressful for loved ones and can affect their other interpersonal relationships.
Families can help end their loved one’s addiction
Family members may think that they do not need to change anything. After all, their loved one is the one struggling with addiction, not them. However, as long as families continue to have this mindset, the problem will only get worse.
Addiction changes the entire family dynamic, often in a manner that supports and even enables an addict to continue using. Families can seek help to end their family member’s addiction to create a healthier dynamic and help improve family relationships and ensure that family members get the support they need during the process of recovery.
The Morton Center offers family services
Here at The Morton Center, we offer family services that ensure that a loved one struggling with addiction can have greater success in recovery. These services also provide crucial support for families who may be struggling as a result of their loved one’s problems.
Our work has shown that having family attend two of our services increases their loved ones’ chances of completing our program by three times.