Addiction does not just affect the individual. It impacts everyone around them; family, friends, loved ones, neighbors, and work colleagues. Although recovery starts with the individual, it may be necessary to seek support for family members too. Many families have gone through similar situations and problems, and there are resources to support the whole family’s journey – every step of the way.
The Impact of Addiction
One in seven Americans will face a form of addiction during their lifetime. When you think about each one of those people, they all have some form of family, friends, or network – whatever shape or size that is.
Colorado is the top consumer of all four substances, marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, and opioids. It is ranked number seven in the United States for drug use. When it comes to alcohol, one in five adults drink excessively, and on average, five deaths per day are due to excessive drinking.
The high rates of addiction and overdose are not just devastating for the addict, but for their family and loved ones.
How does Addiction affect Family and Loved Ones?
Addiction can impact a family’s finances, physical health, and mental health. No family is structured the same. Therefore, the effect on the family differs according to the family structure when a family member abuses substances.
Family members take on different roles to try and compensate for the person who is addicted. Whether it is a role to shield other members from addiction, deal with the fallout from addiction, keep younger children happy, or keep the family afloat – they all take their toll. Lines can become blurred between parent/child relationships and parent/friend relationships.
Addiction in the family can significantly affect children. There can be lasting effects that children carry with them into adulthood, including; anxiety problems, low self-esteem, loneliness, guilt, feeling helpless, fear of abandonment, and chronic depression.
Parents and spouses of addicts are often put under immense strain. Feelings of guilt, fear, anxiety, and depression can be overwhelming. There is the constant worry that their loved one will not recover, or even worse, die. Not to mention the financial strains and stress of having to support the rest of the family.
Family members are often left feeling overwhelmed, traumatized, and lonely. When witnessing a family battling with addiction, it can be challenging to know how to help. However, there are ways that you can offer your support.
How can you Support Other Families?
The best way you can support any family facing addiction is to be there for them. Addiction often brings with it stigma and isolation. Family members may feel ashamed about having an addict in the family, and they may be scared about how you will react to them. People often become withdrawn and socially isolate themselves.
Reach out to offer your friendship. Listen to the problems they are facing in a non-judgemental way. Be a shoulder to cry on – and a person to celebrate with when things go well. Simply offering your support, friendship, and letting them know you are there is what most families need during these difficult times.
How can you find Support for Your Family?
The first step to finding support for you and your family is to think about the type of help you will benefit from. Do you need information? Would it help to be part of a support group? Do you need to see a doctor due to the physical and emotional impact? Are you looking for ways to support your children? Would counseling be beneficial for the family?
It can be overwhelming to know where to look for support. A positive place to start is speaking to your family physician, who can signpost you to resources. You can also approach your local addiction treatment center to see what information and counseling they offer to family members. There is also a wealth of information available on the internet. Below are a few useful links to get you started.
Useful Substance Abuse Resources for Families of Addicts
- Family Check-Up. Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Use. A useful guide produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) about positive parenting skills to help prevent the initiation and progression of drug use in youths.
- Step by Step Guides to Finding Treatment for Drug Use Disorders. Produced by the NIDA and filled with resources to help you or someone you care about who might have a drug addiction problem.
- Not sure where to find treatment for substance abuse close to you? Try the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) treatment locator at https://findtreatment.gov/or call them on 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- If a treatment center or program has been recommended, but you are not sure if it is right for your child, this article from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has a list of questions to ask: Substance Abuse Treatment For Children And Adolescents: Questions To Ask.
- The Achieve Whole Recovery blog has a range of useful posts covering topics such as Preventing Underage Drinking and Understanding the Risk of Overdose.
As your local addiction treatment center in Colorado Springs, Achieve Whole Recovery offers substance abuse and addiction therapy and medical assisted therapy. We accept both Colorado Medicaid and Medicare as well as a wide range of other insurance options.
Achieve Whole Recovery is here to support you and your family through this difficult time.