Dealing with addiction as a family can be difficult, but there are ways to cope

Stock image, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — No one ever thinks it’s going to be them. No family ever predicts their loved one will be faced with such a crisis such as substance abuse. But somehow and someway it happens, and families are often blindsided.

The ripples of turmoil spread quickly throughout a family while the question lingers of how something like this could happen. How unfamiliar the individual seems to the rest of the family and how foreign their destructive behavior has become. The family does not know this new person, as they manipulate meaningful relationships and turn love into a hostage negotiation.

Bending the bonds of family, substance abuse dismantles foundational relationships within a family unit. Sidelined by suffering and lack of resources, most are left in uncharted territory and are ashamed to ask for help. All a family can see is someone they love, charging into a disaster, with each episode worst than the last, like a chain reaction ripping through the heart of the family. 

Band together and carry on 

There is only so much a family member or friend can do when someone they know is addicted, and those affected by the loved one’s addiction must be able to carry on. In the trying times that addiction certainly will bring on the individual, those problems will make waves in the lives of those who love them the most. Families and friends must trudge through these times and carry on with their lives.

Even as it gets more difficult to see a loved one ruin their own lives, families must band together to weather the storm. As the days weigh heavier and the nights are sleepless, hope must remain. There will come a time to act, a time to plan an intervention or facilitate treatment for the individual addicted. With some coaching by professionals, this time may become easier to spot, but there is a time to do our part in facilitating recovery for the one we love

Misunderstandings and hurt in the face of addiction

While watching a loved one in the grip of active drug and alcohol addiction, there may be so much confusion. It is hard to fathom the lengths that an individual will go to get their “fix.” Addicts and alcoholics will choose the most appalling of conditions to continue using.

For the average friends and family, this can be one of the hardest things to comprehend. How could an addict choose drugs over family, friends, good food and shelter? Once caught, the delusion addiction often brings up the fact that nothing matters compared to the substance the addict is using.

Friends and families have the hardest time understanding this concept because it seems as if the addict is choosing the suffering of addiction and the conditions it brings over the love and care of a family environment. Not only is it hard to understand, but it causes wounds with the people that love the addict the most. Knowing that the addict’s behavior is driven by the addiction – and not spite – can help friends and families survive in the wake of the addict’s actions. 

Seek the help of shared experience 

Ask for help. Find the courage to move past the embarrassment and shame to ask for help. Search through family and friends for another family that has braved the perils of addiction together. The insight into their experience is invaluable when first attempting to find direction to address the crisis.

Honesty and the ability to relate with another will begin calming the panic family members often feel during this time. Having the resource of shared experience gives a positive outlet for understanding, with direction and suggestion on what to do next. Having allies in such a challenging time can help remove the weight of helplessness that is not uncommon for families witnessing addiction.

A wonderful resource where shared experience can be easily found is the free family counseling provided by Lion’s Gate Recovery. Led by a licensed professional, in this setting families can find the solidarity and support of those who have gone through the rough waters addiction often brings. 

Written by SHANE P. CURRIN, Lion’s Gate Recovery.

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