Anyone that's ever been addicted to drugs or alcohol and is now successfully managing their recovery knows firsthand just how debilitating and incapacitating dependence can be. Family and friends will never forget the emotional pain and fear they experienced when their loved one was actively using. But they're grateful and thankful that the person they care about received help and is working hard to stay clean and sober.
Sadly there are millions of people still in need of treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction who are still in denial and their families and friends are suffering too. It's very unfortunate but addiction doesn't just impact the addict. Everyone in their life that's close to them, are affected in one way or another and the addict can in no way understand what they're going through. They're so focused on their own pain and addiction needs during this time that it's impossible for them to even fathom the fact that others are suffering because of their substance use.
Active alcoholics or drug addicts aren't the only ones that are living in denial as far as addiction is concerned. Many times family members and loved ones live in their own form of denial too. They're afraid to talk about it or confront the addict hoping they will just stop and the problem will go away. Understandably this is out of fear but once a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol they need some form of help in order to stop and stay clean and sober. Enabling them or avoiding the subject just escalates the problem and strengthens the addict's denial.
When someone in our life that we love and care about has a problem with drugs or alcohol, we tend to be ashamed and embarrassed and seeking help for ourselves is sometimes out of the question. We can't even confront the addict or talk about it with our best friends let alone a total stranger like an addiction counselor, therapist or at a self-help meeting.
It's also normal for people to avoid confronting someone they love about their drinking or drug use because they don't want to get them angry or upset. This is understandable if the addict tends to have anger issues normally or when they're intoxicated. It doesn't do you or your loved one any good to talk about their substance use when they're drunk or high, but for their sake and yours, unless they have violent tendencies when they're sober, they need to be confronted.
Addiction is a relapsing brain disease that continues to get worse and more intense as time goes on. Not only do the intense need for drugs or alcohol increase, so does the emotional and physical damage associated with the substance abused. The addict not only gets worse as time goes on but so do their loved ones. Stress, fear, depression, and anxiety can lead to very serious illness when left untreated and anyone that has an addict in their life definitely experiences emotional stress and pain.
Don't Be Embarrassed by a Loved One's Addiction
Addiction is a disease that we need to talk about, not be embarrassed and ashamed of. We have to break the silence when it comes to substance abuse when a family member has a drinking problem or is addicted to drugs. We can't cover for them, avoid confronting them or feel like we have failed. We also have to make sure that we find help for ourselves even if the addict in our life isn't ready to admit they have a problem.
Our Children Suffer Also by a Loved One's Addiction
We have to think about others who are affected by a family member or other loved one's addiction. Children also suffer when a parent, caregiver, grandparent or sibling has a drinking problem or abuses drugs. Not only are they emotionally and sometimes physically affected due to someone they love's addiction, but they also are at a higher risk of experimenting with drugs or alcohol themselves at a young age.
Professional Family Intervention
Remember there is another approach you can take if a family member or loved one has a drinking problem or is dependent on drugs. Carefully planned family interventions are very effective getting your loved one to see their need for help for their substance use problem. A family intervention is planned ahead of time with a skilled professional interventionist to help your loved one see their need for treatment.
A family intervention is designed to not only get the loved one to realize their need for help, but to also make sure they receive the right effective help and support they personally need in order to recover. Everyone's path to addiction recovery is different and it's critical that they receive treatment that fits their needs. The interventionist also helps the family members find help and support so they can heal too.
Professional family interventions take place in a loving, caring yet firm manner and are done out of love and concern. When a planned intervention is overseen by a trained intervention specialist, family members are able to get their loved one to see their need for help so they can heal and recover.
Self-Help Group Programs
There are also wonderful self-help groups for adults and children in need of guidance and support due to someone else's addiction. It's so important to find help and support for yourself and your family when someone in your life has a problem with drugs or alcohol.
Support groups like Al-Anon Family Groups, Alateen, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Nar-Anon Family Groups and Gam-Anon have helped thousands of people begin to heal from the affects addiction has had on their lives. Members receive strength, hope and support from others who can relate to what you're going through.
We can't make anyone stop abusing drugs or alcohol but we can help them and ourselves by not enabling them, talking with them about their substance use and voicing your concerns, letting them know that you will support them any way you can when it comes to getting help, and making sure that you and your family receive the guidance and support you need whether the addict is ready or not.