Drug addiction is a disease that does not solely affect the addict, but everyone around them. Generally, the most effected individuals are family members or close family friends. Families often do not know how to respond to drug abuse, and may cause problems while they are attempting to fix others.
The Effects of Drug Addiction on the Family
Whether it is a spouse, parent, child, or sibling, drug addiction in the family affects everyone. Every drug causes different effects, but the family feels the impact of the addiction regardless of the addict’s drug of choice. As addiction takes hold of the individual, it becomes the main motivating factor in their life. The value of family steadily drops along with work, school, and other daily obligations.
The addict may begin manipulating and using the family, both physically and emotionally. Children often steal from their parents in order to acquire money for drugs, although any family member may do this. As the family is often closest to the addict, their caring often seems controlling to the addict. Families of drug addicts usually suffer before anyone else in the addict’s life does, as their proximity and deep level of care keep them close to their loved one. The addict commonly has outbursts of anger towards his or her family, and attempts to drive them out of their life.
The family is heavily affected by their love for the addict. The pain and destruction experienced by the addict may be taken on by the family, and their worry can control their daily life. Along with worry, the family also can experience anger, shame, guilt, and regret. For many families, the presence of an addicted family member is the most controlling aspect of their life.
Help for the Family of a Drug Addict
Help for families of drug users can be found all across the country. Many families have found serenity through the twelve-step program of Al-Anon. Al-Anon is a support group that states that “The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems. We believe alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.” Al-Anon works with the family of alcoholics and addicts in order to help them change their perspective on the situation. A common saying in Al-Anon meetings is that “you didn’t cause it, you cant control it, and you cannot cure it.” These groups have helped many families detach from their addicted loved one, and live their life without being affected by the addict.
A family cannot force a member to live sober, but may aid them in their decision. Some people are encouraged to stop enabling, which may be the hardest thing to do. However, it can also be one of the most useful tools available. If a family has a negative, unhealthy attitude, the addict struggles more with their sobriety. Family members must take care of themselves, and not be controlled by the addict or alcoholic’s behavior.