Finding help for families of addicts is critical to treating the disease of addiction. While many think of addiction as only that person’s problem, addiction affects the entire family unit. Not only that, but family members are most people’s only outlet for support when they begin recovery. Thus, healing the family helps to improve the outcomes for both the addict and their loved ones.
At Creekside Recovery Residences, we understand that addiction is a family disease. We are here to help those struggling with addiction as well as their families.
How Does Addiction Affect the Family?
Addiction most directly affects family members living with the addict. However, other friends and family members outside of the home can still feel the impact in many ways. The way that addiction affects the family depends greatly on the person’s relationship to the addict.
The effects of addiction on different family members can vary based on the following relationships:
Children of Addicts
Children are among the most vulnerable family members affected by addiction. In 2020, parental drug and alcohol use was a condition of removal in 39.0% of cases where a child was removed from their home to out-of-home care in the US, according to the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare.
Children depend upon their parents to meet their physical, mental, and emotional health needs. When one or both parents abuse drugs and alcohol, they often neglect their children’s needs—sometimes unknowingly or unintentionally.
Children of addicts adopt maladaptive family roles to cope with the trauma of addiction in the home. Some children become overachievers while others get into trouble themselves. Still, others make themselves invisible and hold their feelings inside—leading to low self-esteem, depression, and difficulty building healthy relationships.
Sometimes, addiction occurs among children in the home—typically teens or young adults. Younger children are often affected by the behaviors of their older siblings. They might be excessively worried about them, even if they don’t show it.
In addition, in homes where one or both parents are addicted, older siblings often take on the parental roles for younger siblings. They might be burdened with the household responsibilities of cleaning, cooking, and tending to the needs of younger children. With these additional responsibilities, they don’t get a chance to have a normal childhood and adolescence.
Parents of Adult Children
Adult children is a term that refers to addicted adults in their relationship with their parents. Even into adulthood, the parents of adult children could be bailing their child out of legal issues, helping with finances, or taking on a parental role with grandchildren.
The spouse or partner of an addict can struggle with the isolation and frustration of being in a relationship with an addict. They might develop a mental health disorder, like depression or anxiety, as a result of the stress. They could be the one who helps to cover up for the other person’s addiction, like calling in for them when the addict is dealing with the aftereffects of substance abuse.
Parenting partners of addicts could also cover up for their addicted partner’s lack of attention to their children. In extreme cases, a spouse or partner might need to legally remove the addict from their home due to safety concerns, especially with children in the home.
Friends and Other Loved Ones
A person’s family could consist of other people outside of blood relatives. Friends and other loved ones could also be affected by an addict. For instance, they might be called to pick them up after a DUI arrest or give them a place to stay if they get kicked out of their homes. Addiction can strain even the closest and longest of friendships.
5 Tips to Help Families of Addicts
Family members and other loved ones of addicts often feel helpless in their situation. They might have tried to intervene in their loved one’s behavior to no avail. Or, they could feel so overwhelmed that they don’t even know where to start.
The following are tips to help families of addicts:
#1. Engage in Self-Care
Self-care is one of the first things that family members of addicts can do to help themselves. Oftentimes, families of addicts put the needs of the addict first. They frequently feel like they have no time to themselves, which leads to increased stress, anxiety, and even depression.
By taking even a few minutes per day to engage in self-care, families can start to change their outlook on the situation at home. Examples of self-care include:
- Listening to music
- Watching a movie
- Going for a walk
#2. Attend Therapy
Therapy can also help families of addicts. Many treatment centers offer family therapy when addicts are in a treatment program. Family therapy helps to rebuild the family dynamics and address issues that occur due to addiction.
However, each family member can also attend individual therapy. This can help family members manage stress and anxiety resulting from loving an addict. In addition, since family members’ own issues are often sidelined, therapy can help them become the best version of themselves—even if their addicted loved one refuses to seek help.
#3. Join a Support Group
Support groups have helped families of addicts connect with others in similar situations. Many family members of addicts feel isolated in their situation. This can lead to loneliness as well as shame about their loved one’s addiction.
Support groups remind family members that they aren’t alone. They have peers who are also affected by a loved one’s addiction. Some of the most common support groups for families of addicts include:
#4. Learn More About Addiction
Learning more about addiction can also help families of addicts. Sometimes, additional information can shed light on a loved one’s substance abuse. This can also help family members find solutions as well as look for signs of relapse if a loved one has been in treatment.
The following resources can help family members of addicts find information about addiction and treatment:
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA)
- The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- Signs of Drug Overdose
- Collegiate Recovery Program: College Students and Addiction
- What to Do When an Alcoholic Relapses
#5. Reach Out to Treatment Programs
Reaching out directly to treatment programs can also help families of addicts. They can help families understand the nature of addiction and how to treat an addiction. By understanding the steps involved in recovery, family members have a better understanding of what their loved one will need to recover.
In addition, reaching out to treatment centers can help families find options if and when their loved one decides to get treatment for drug or alcohol addiction.
Reach Out to Sober Living Programs Today
Creekside Recovery Residences understands that addiction doesn’t just affect the addict—the entire family struggles. We’re here to help addicts recover as well as provide help for families of addicts when they seek treatment. Our sober living programs provide a safe and secure environment for those engaged in outpatient drug and alcohol rehab.
Contact us today to learn more about the treatment process at our sober living programs.