Addiction is a disease that not only directly affects the individual sufferer, but the entire family as well. Whether you are a parent contemplating what to do about your child’s addiction or a sibling seeking help for the one you have known all of your life, it is vital for the family to come together and heal.
5 Facts You Need To Know About Addiction
Addiction is a disease
Addiction is actually not a choice but instead a chronic brain disease as per the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). The truth about addiction is that even when the addict/alcoholic wants to stop, they simply just cannot, without help. You may feel offended that your loved one seemingly won’t – but really just can’t – stop on their own. There are physical, emotional, and mental cravings and withdrawals that keep them essentially magnetic to the drugs or alcohol. Your loved ones continuance of active addiction has nothing to do with a lack of love for the family. An addict’s disease can grow to be so wrongfully strong that it overpowers any responsibilities, passions, love, or obligations. This is why it is important to remember that it is a real disease, like any other physical illness, and should be treated by professionals.
There is a difference between enabling and supporting
Since you care for your loved one, it can be particularly tricky to tell when you are genuinely helping them in support or instead, enabling. Enabling can come in all shapes and forms but is most obvious in occurrence when someone is aware they are aiding the addict’s addiction. If you know your loved one is getting high or drinking alcohol and you continue to support them by giving them money or the substance itself, then you are enabling. Supporting is encouraged because it means helping them seek the treatment that the addict desperately needs. This will give the addict the opportunity to recover long-term.
Denial means to not acknowledge
Just as it can be a challenge for the addict to admit that they have a problem, it can be equally as difficult for loved ones to acknowledge the fact of the matter. The truth is that you can only ignore something for so long before it flares up right before your eyes, demanding to be seen. Before reaching this pitfall point, there are warning signs to pick up on and ways to be proactive about your loved ones addiction before it worsens, which it will because addiction is a progressive disease. Some common symptoms of early addiction can include but are not limited to compulsive lying, secretiveness, changes in friends, lost interest in former activities or pastimes, increased anxiety, weight changes, and mood instability. Noticing these signs and being more aware of your loved ones behavior can keep you from potentially denying an underlying issue.
Buying into manipulation may not be easily recognizable
Addicts can be masters at manipulation even if they are unaware they are doing it. Buying into manipulation can come on as innocently as just wanting to believe what your loved one is saying. Unfortunately, that might be a mistake, and believing them is just continuing on with the phase of denial. Your loved one is suffering from a disease and although they may love you, they can’t seem to control their addiction. You definitely need to be careful and aware that the addict’s disease will pop out in conversation by trying to persuade you with certain decisions. The addict in active addiction doesn’t typically mean to be taking advantage of you in such a selfish way; it’s just that they aren’t in the right frame of mind.
Your loved ones addiction was out of your control to manage
If your loved one cannot control their own addiction, it will prove just as difficult if you try. Understanding that you are powerless over their addiction is important. It is human nature that parents want to keep a close hold on their children’s lives, in order to protect them from any harm the world may inflict upon them. When parents discover that their child is in active addiction and sets out a way to correct the problem, they may make failed attempts at halting their drug use by removing door locks, enforcing a curfew, removing car privileges, or just generally watching them more closely. However, ultimately when an addict wants to take a drug, they will find a way to do so, and all of the parents’ attempts will have little success if any. An addiction is a tough task for parents and family members to handle on their own, especially if they do not know much about the disease of addiction. This is why it is best to seek professional help through inpatient rehabilitation treatment, outpatient programs, and 12-Step Fellowships.
For The Addicts Loved Ones
Something for loved ones of the addict to consider would be attending Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and, family groups with The Watershed. These provide great outlets for the family and other loved ones of the addict/alcoholic. Again, this is a disease that affects not just the addict but the people around the addict as well. There are all kinds of struggles and difficulties that come along with having a loved one suffer from the disease of addiction. Attending one of these groups provide a place where you can express what’s going through your mind and share your experience with other families that can identify.
Addiction is a serious disease but it is treatable. If you or someone you know is suffering, call The Watershed for help today 1-877-975-4837.