Through research and treatment, it has been found that addiction is ultimately a family disease. Even though addiction occurs within the individual, the effects of addiction significantly impact family members, loved ones, and friends. Research has found that by providing those closest to the addict with resources, the quality of sobriety improves as the addict and their loved ones heal together. Due to this, it’s essential that as a society we continue to provide resources for this population.
Family, loved ones and friends endure their own specific types of stressors and pain. They almost experience a type of addiction themselves as they become consumed with the addicted person’s well-being, whereabouts, etc. It’s been found that as the addicted person attempts to recover, their loved ones are left in a withdrawal period of their own searching for normalcy and stability. As a result of the chaos often found within addiction, the family systems and relationships are often times strained, leading to their own need for support and help to recover as well.
Here are a couple examples of how addiction can significantly impact family, loved ones, and friends:
- Siblings: The parents of the addicted individual would understandably be consumed with the addiction by spending a great amount of energy and time trying to help and protect the individual. However, the other sibling that is not struggling with an addiction may be feeling neglected and may start acting out behaviorally to try to pull the attention back from the parents. In this example, it can be seen how conflicted the parents would be and also how both siblings are struggling in their own ways.
- Marriage: The spouse who does not struggle with addiction may feel extremely lonely and lost. The spouse could even develop depression or anxiety due to the stress within the marriage.
- Friends: A friend may offer their addicted friend a place to stay if they have nowhere else to reside. However, the friend may notice that the person is actively using substances in their home or they may notice that some items have gone missing. The friend may feel they are in a dangerous position for the health and safety of an addicted friend, as well as may feel that their own safety and privacy is at risk.
While it is clear that the addicted person needs help and support to recover, the above examples provide insight into how much family, loved ones or friends can benefit from support and help as well.
If you’re a family member, loved one or friend of an addict there are a variety of support groups that offer resources to facilitate your own healing.
In addition, most treatment programs offer family therapy avenues, whether by group or individual sessions, and the topics are often educational, as well as skills-based to help loved ones apply the knowledge toward their own recovery process. Examples of some of the topics covered in family therapy groups include setting healthy boundaries, effective communication, co-dependency, and family roles.
Overall the most important fact to remember is that no one has to recover alone. Whether you are a spouse, child, friend or sibling of someone who is struggling with addiction there are resources available for you.
Author: Natalie Woulf, Utilization Review Specialist – Footprints to Recovery
To learn more about treatment options for your loved one or resources for yourself contact Footprints to Recovery today – [email protected] .