Family plays an important role in fighting against drugs or alcohol addiction. Here’s how you, as a family member, can help the addict.
If you are reading this and have to manage the huge milestone of openly admitting that you have a drugs or alcohol addiction problem, well done! You have taken the first step along the road to recovery.
Admitting You Have A Drugs Or Alcohol Addiction
It is very difficult to admit to a problem such as drugs or alcohol addiction and many people live for many months or even years in denial.
Often, people will tell you that they could stop at any point, it is not a problem or it is just a social habit. But when the habit becomes a daily regular occurrence or a drink or drug is the first thought of the morning, there is a red flag there indicating a potential problem.
It is not just alcohol and illicit drugs that people become addicted to, prescription medications can form a part of the addiction process too. And there can be multiple addictions which makes the situation all the more complex.
For families living with an addicted member, it can all become very difficult. Everyone is affected as family routines change.
Maybe the partner who is abusing the substance loses the job and finances become tight. And there is the funding of the habit to consider too, resentment builds and arguments and fights occur.
Often, the addict is not in a position to be a part of family life and will become isolated. Mood changes are common, often become angry and embarrassed, and children witness acts that they should not.
If families choose to remain together, often one party adopts the role of caretaker. And this is a very difficult and endlessly demanding role and without help, the situation can often spiral out of control. In most cases, it’s important to fight against drugs and alcohol.
It is, however, important to understand that people turn to alcohol and drugs for a variety of reasons, and often the reasons are complex.
Most Common Reasons People Get Addicted
Here are the most common triggers that lead people to drugs or alcohol addiction:
1. Anxiety Issues
Someone with poor self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy can become anxious and drugs or alcohol can be a way for them to temporarily relieve this anxiety.
What begins as a helpful tool can become a major problem as the person needs more and more of the substance to create the same effect.
2. Genetic Predisposition
We often find that people whose families have had issues in the past are inclined to have issues themselves, whether that be due to the genetic endowment or from watching behaviors throughout their lives.
3. Social Norms
It is expected within some groups that drugs and alcohol are a part of the social scene and in order to “fit in”, people partake in such activities on a regular basis.
4. Unhappiness, Loneliness, Problems
Some will turn to drugs and alcohol addiction to escape from the difficulties in their lives and find temporary relief with the use of substances.
Whatever the reason, your friend or family member will have a tough road ahead in their attempt to beat the addiction.
It is helpful if they can understand a bit about the reason for the addiction but often the reasons are complex and often the addict will not know either.
Not only will the addict have the physical and psychological trauma from the withdrawal of the substance itself, but they will have to face the problem that they used the drugs or alcohol to mask.
It is essential that family members rally around to help. It can be very difficult for a lot of family members to want to help as bitterness and sometimes even hatred has taken hold. But they must understand that the addict or recovering addict needs and would appreciate your support.
How Family Can Help An Addict
Here are the important roles family plays in the addict’s road to recovery:
1. Motivate The Addict
Family and friends can play a critical role in helping, motivating, and encouraging the addict to stay in treatment.
Also, they help addicts to attend weekly meetings and make sure that they keep appointments and other visits.
2. Encourage To Seek Help
Family can encourage the addict to seek further help, help that he/she would perhaps not even realize is needed.
As the addict recovers the feeling of depression may set in, old problems come back to haunt and further help may be needed by way of counseling or family therapy.
3. Give Practical Help
Practical support will be needed as the addict goes down the path of recovery, helping with chores and helping them back to a ‘normal’ life again.
4. Share Love
Encouragement, love, kindness go a long way. The addict will be going through a lot physically and mentally and will need the reassurance and support that family love can provide to help him/her stay on track.
Unconditional love and kindness can be a great motivator and can help the addict feel less alone and hopeless.
5. Just Be There
For many addicts, the thought of a good life with a family member can act as a great incentive for their recovery.
6. Take The Lead
Your loved one may benefit from learning behaviors like coping skills or new activities and may appreciate the family member taking the lead on that.
After all, it is much easier to go along to an event compared with having to organize it.
A family member can be there to chat, listen and talk and help to cultivate a network of friendships away from substances, around pleasurable activities instead.
Although the addict may not outwardly thank you for your help immediately and may even be reluctant to let you help, it is important to persevere.
Listen and try to respond appropriately, do not force and always let them feel as though they are in control.
It will not be a quick fix and the road to recovery may be very slow, so patience and understanding are essential.
The addict may even have temporary relapses but remember, as a family member, all you can do is be there to support, you cannot take the journey for them.
There are many organizations out there that can help, make use of them.
Some of the organizations may be able to provide you with financial assistance or respite support. Some will be able to support you in the family home and help with children.
It is important to find out what is out there in your area. Take advantage of any support you find because the recovery from drugs or alcohol addiction isn’t easy at all.