When Family Struggles With Addiction

If you have addiction in your family, you will learn a number of insurmountable truths. It is natural to feel doubtful or skeptical in the face of another’s addiction, but it may relieve you to know that others have been there before you. Family addiction is not uncharted territory. In fact, there are a number of truths others have learned in the face of a family member’s addiction that may comfort or intrigue you.

It’s important to remember and realize that addiction is a family disease. It doesn’t just affect the addict, but everyone around him/her, especially loved ones. Substance abuse tears apart normal family dynamics and it’s difficult to regain that trust once we become sober.

addicts in the family

Realities That Families of Addicts Face

One undeniable truth about another’s addiction is that it is not about you. It is often tough for the family members and friends of addicts to not take addiction personally. People often think- well why did this happen to my sibling, my family, why me? But the truth of the matter is that addiction can happen to anyone. Often people assume that something they did cause their loved one to take drugs or act out in a certain way. And while it is important to remain introspective, the case of the matter is that you did not cause it. And similarly, you cannot stop it. Guilt is not productive for your addict and guilt is not productive for you. In fact, it will stop you from healing. What you will want to do at this time is to involve yourself in your loved one’s treatment and recovery. Trust us, they will need the strength and support you can provide them.

Another thing you must accept with an addict is that detox is not a (complete) treatment. Meaning, detox is not all an addict needs. It is not enough to simply get a substance out of one’s body. Addiction is a mental disorder- the brain’s reward circuitry erodes one’s self-control and will affect their brain chemistry for a long time after. One must be aware that these brain patterns will not simply erase overnight- it will take a long time for these patterns to be unlearned and for new patterns to be put in place.

Family members and friends must also understand that no one in the world expects to become an addict. Perhaps addiction starts with the choice to try drugs, but from there, it is really out of the addict’s hands. And trying drugs isn’t necessarily uncommon and doesn’t often end up in addiction- about five of six people who try a drug will not end up addicted. So why is that? Well, there isn’t a simple answer. In its place, however, is a slew of genetic data, trauma history, psychiatric problems, personality and more.

Addiction is a Family Disease

There are a lot of realities in the world of addiction and recovery that a family member or friend must embrace if they want to have peace while an addict remains in their life. You must understand your part is to help and support, and beyond that, it is important to not take things personally. If you are a loved one of an addict, or an addict yourself, you may consider therapy to learn other inalienable truths to the world of addiction.