Addiction and the Family:
In some cases, families are the primary support systems for those suffering with the disease of addiction. These families are likely to experience significant physical, social, emotional and spiritual stress due to the behavior of the addict whilst in active addiction, and in the same vein, spend a lot of time worrying about the addict in recovery and their chance at relapse.
There are specialised groups designed to assist and support family members, one such group is ‘Al-Anon.’ It is pertinent that family members, loved ones and partners learn as much as possible about the intricacies of addiction, and coping with addiction and the family.
There is a strong community of people going through the same traumas. Families dealing with addiction are not alone, just like addicts and alcoholics are not alone in their struggle. Families need an opportunity to share their experiences just as much as the recovering addict does. Family members need some sort of validation as to how draining the experience of supporting a loved one with an addiction problem can be. In the same breath they also need people to understand how much they love their ill family member.
No one can ignore the fact that family members are profoundly affected by watching a loved one spiral into the depths of addiction. Quite often these family members have a strong yearning to learn as much as possible about the disease of addiction and have a high level of motivation to be a part of the recovery process themselves.
Tips for families dealing with addiction and addiction recovery:
Seek help from professionals
By working with an addiction counsellor you are given the tools to deal with the impact of concurrent issues within your family dynamic.
Co-operate with treatment providers and work to find appropriate ways to manage co-occurring problems. The keyword being: Manage. Do not let things spiral and become too overwhelming.
The addict is not the only person affected by addiction. Make sure to speak to loved ones who are also trying to cope with the consequences that come with having an addict in the family. This ensures a safer and calmer family environment, a place where you can talk honestly and openly without fear of upsetting each other.
As mentioned previously, support groups are available for families dealing with addiction. There are massive physical, financial, social and emotional effects that come with supporting someone with an addiction problem and it is important to talk about this devastation. Find an Al-Anon meeting in your area and discover an entire community, one that can help you through this difficult time. Remember: You are not alone.
Other helpful tips for family members
• Identify any personal areas of concern
• Learn to accept what cannot be changed. Identify certain areas over which you have little control. Accepting these are just as important as identifying areas of concern that are fixable
• Put together a self-care strategy in all areas: Do not neglect your well-being!
Houghton House Family Support
Houghton House offers specialised family support counselling. The Houghton House Group’s family support programme is designed for friends and family members of alcoholics and addicts.
Through education and guidance in small-group discussions with other family members you gain knowledge and practical skills to support the addiction recovery process.
• Understand the disease of addiction and its impact on you and your family
• Learn about the effects of alcohol and drug use on your loved one
• Develop new techniques for living with a person in recovery
• Gain support through interaction with other families
• Plan for continued self-care and recovery
Our family support groups are facilitated by a range of professionals, including certified addiction counsellors, social workers and counselling psychologists.
For more information contact:
Houghton House landline : 011 787 9142 (South Africa)
or call our 24hour helpline on 079 770 7532 (South Africa)
Remember, you are not alone.