Family & Addiction

Families and friends with a loved one who is struggling with a substance use disorder are hurting people.  Pain, fear and frustration come from watching someone they love slowly slip away from them.  On top of the grief is the chaos and frustration that addiction brings on the family - broken trust, lost intimacy, abandonment, financial disaster, etc.  Families dealing with alcohol and other drug problems are often stressed to the breaking point. 

No family is born with the knowledge of how to deal effectively with substance use disorders.  It is a skill that must be learned and practiced daily, and can be helped tremendously by mentoring.  Recovery from addiction is a family affair.  

If the family is to heal from the destructive impact of a substance use disorder, it is critical for the whole family to engage in the recovery process.  Families need a variety of supports, information and skills to move forward with hope.  Here are 10 important steps you can take to help your family find a way back to true health, balance and happiness:

  1. Come out of isolation and connect with community resources - join a support group or participate in family counseling.
  2. Educate yourself about substance use disorders.  Understand how this brain disease affects both the addicted person and the family.  There is negative fallout for everyone.
  3. Learn communication skills that help such as assertiveness and limit-setting.
  4. Eliminate unhealthy behaviors that hinder including enabling, denial, and minimizing "the problem."
  5. Learn to detach with love and to re-focus on yourself and other family members.
  6. Use personal and family resiliency to develop strategies for dealing with relapse and other potential setbacks like anxiety or anger.
  7. Support and protect your children.
  8. Re-discover your personal and family strengths.
  9. Pursue individual and family activities that are a source of fulfillment and happiness.
  10. Patiently re-build family trust and accountability.