Addiction does not only affect those who are using. It affects everyone around them, leaving loved ones feeling betrayed, traumatized, angry, overwhelmed, sad, and lied to. Often, there are fights, slammed doors, and sleepless nights fueled by anxiety and stress. For these reasons, it is crucial for the family members of addicts to seek treatment to address your needs and help you learn how to support your loved one properly.
The Roles of Family Members During Addiction
There are various roles that loved ones of addicts take on to survive the stress of the addiction happening in their world. Many family members overcompensate for their addicted loved one, typically falling into one of three categories:
- Persecutor: This person is often controlling, angry, distant, and believes that punishing their addicted loved one will fix the problems in the family. They also tend to isolate themselves from the issues and other family members.
- Protector: This person is more naive and takes on a caretaker role, which often results in enabling addictive behaviors as they believe love will fix the problem. They tend to become overly involved in the situation.
- Blamer: This person avoids taking responsibility for the problem. Instead of dealing with it head-on, they tend to project the blame onto others in the family in a form of scapegoating.
Benefits of Family Treatment
Addiction is a chronic disease. Treatment and support can offer a better understanding of addiction and the recovery process, so family members can help their loved one in the proper ways. Treatment and support can also help family members heal from the damage and pain that has occurred, enabling them to empathize with others who have gone through the ordeal of loving someone who is suffering from addiction.
Utilizing the resources offered by support groups can give you the necessary coping skills to take care of yourself first and then learn ways to help your loved one through this difficult time. Families as a whole experience various emotions during the process of addiction, as their loved one refuses to get help. These emotions encompass sadness, anger, and grief. Other emotions commonly felt include fear, doubt, and worry once the addict enters detox or rehab.
Support groups are typically free of charge, which can be a big help when money is being spent on your loved one’s recovery in a rehabilitation program or treatment center. Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists can be expensive, but this does not mean there are not affordable options for you to seek help.
Support groups such as Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and Co-Dependents Anonymous are free of charge and open to those who have someone they love going through substance abuse. These groups can help by allowing you to discuss your thoughts and feelings in a judgment-free zone with like-minded people who empathize. They can also teach you to recognize enabling behavior, set boundaries, and talk with others who understand your situation.
Your loved one needs all the support they can get. But when a recovering addict sees their loved ones making an effort to get help and understand their situation, they will be more likely to stick to their recovery plan. In fact, studies show that when family members take an active role in the recovery process, relapse rates are lower.
This is likely because family involvement shows the recovering individual that they are actively participating in their efforts as well — everyone is working towards the same goal. The family will also benefit from getting help by being able to speak openly and honestly from a more educated position.
Alleviating the Guilt
Loved ones of addicts often feel tremendous guilt concerning the addiction. It must be said that addiction is a chronic disease that can never be cured, but it can be treated and managed. Therefore, curing and healing your loved one should not be your responsibility.
When you learn about addiction and all that it encompasses, you can begin to actively support your loved one in a healthy and more informed way. Thinking that you can and should do certain things to help them heal are misconceptions, often hurting you and them more than helping.
Take into account the three C’s of recovery offered by Al-Anon:
- I didn’t CAUSE it.
- I can’t CURE it.
- I can’t CONTROL it.
These are written specifically to teach family members of addicts that it is not their fault their loved one fell into the grip of addiction. Understanding this fact can alleviate feelings of guilt and allow you to take the proper steps to help yourself and your loved one.
You Are Not Alone
Remember that you are not alone in your pain and grief during this difficult time. There are groups of like-minded people who have been through what you are going through and can offer support.
Loved ones of addicts are often forgotten as they try to help the person going through substance abuse. Trying to help your loved one is virtuous and important, but you cannot properly help them without first taking care of yourself and your needs. After all, you cannot pour from an empty glass.
Educating yourself on addiction helps you to take the necessary steps to provide support for your loved one. With transitional living homes across the state of Arizona, Camelback Recovery is available to answer any questions you may have. We understand exactly what you’re going through, and we are here to help. Call us today at (602) 466-9880.