How to Deal With a Family Member’s Drug Addiction
by Sara Stringer
Substance abuse has claimed the lives of many and has torn even the strongest families apart. Drug abuse has also seen an increase in numbers and is thought of as one of the U.S.’s heaviest financial burdens, costing more than half a trillion dollars annually.
Through government-funded social programs, many addicts have been able to overcome this disease, but many still remain untreated. Sure, these social programs help those who are brave enough to seek out help, but what about those who still feel unsure about attending rehabilitation programs?
Most people in the U.S. have someone within their family that struggles with substance abuse. How can you help? As always, knowledge is power.
Addiction is a Disease
It’s very difficult to understand why someone would become an addict. In our minds, we may think that people should be able to stop any habits that may result in death. What we have to understand is that at some point, addiction stops becoming a choice and starts becoming a disease. Recent studies suggest that addiction stems from genetic and environmental factors, meaning people don’t choose to be addicts.
By understanding this, you’ll be able to educate yourself and your family about substance abuse, which in the end, helps addicts ease the emotional and social stresses brought on by the family. By speaking with your family about addiction, you’ll also be able to weed out any enablers. This also serves as an opportunity to bring the family together and provide support, something addicts desperately need on their journey to recovery.
Addiction is as much psychological as it is biological. Addicts are encouraged to attend support groups and meetings to express themselves and share their progress without judgment. Families are also encouraged to attend these meetings to provide support and encourage interpersonal communication.
If family environmental factors were major forces in enabling an addiction, it may be necessary to attend family therapy to re-balance family dynamics and give all members of the family–not just the addict–an open forum to share their feelings.
In order for an addict to get better, families must not only provide emotional support, but sometimes financial support as well. Substance abuse treatment is not always covered by health insurance and is therefore a cost covered by the family.
Addicts need expert treatment (common among those who have relapsed numerous times), and these treatments may not be the most affordable. Most families, however, seek financial solutions via financial planners that help them budget their income in order to provide whatever necessary help an addict may need on their road to recovery.
Sometimes, unfortunately, an addict may also find themselves in conflict with the law. It’s important for families to learn about Expert Bail and seek preventative legal help in case they ever need it, even if it seems unlikely that it will be needed.
Therapy is a great way to open communication channels among family members, but in some cases, the communication stops as soon as they leave the therapist’s office. What definitively helps an addict recover is the maintenance of open communication and using communication strategies to clarify feelings and thoughts. One final thing to understand is to make time for yourself. Having an addict in the family doesn’t mean you have to always put them first. Take care of yourself too.
The road to recovery can be long and difficult, but with a united front, patience, planning, and great effort, it can be done.
About the Author
Sara Stringer is freelance writer who enjoys writing about natural health alternatives. In her spare time, she enjoys maintaining an active lifestyle through swimming and practicing yoga.