Addiction doesn’t just impact the person abusing drugs or alcohol, it also affects those close to him or her – especially the family. Anyone who has had someone in their family who suffers from addiction can understand just how true this is. While one family member may not be abusing addictive substances, the effects caused by another doing so can profoundly affect them in innumerable ways.
When a family member is addicted to a substance, he or she can become a shell of a person – just a shadow of what he or she once was or wants to be. It is not uncommon that he or she will behave in ways that are inconsistent to their former selves and those behaviors can have endearing rippling effects.
Some of the most common behaviors surrounding addiction that can instigate family conflict include the following:
These are just a few behaviors that can push a wedge between the addicted and his or her family. Also, the longer the addiction goes on, the deeper that wedge is planted. In order to repair a family destroyed by addiction, we encourage all client families and loved ones to participate in counseling.
Before the onset of family counseling, loved ones may already feel helpless and exhausted as a result of the trauma they have already been through. In some cases, family members are wary and not particularly hopeful that their presence in family counseling will produce significant benefits.
When engagement does occur, however, families can experience many positive effects, including the following:
Many families who enter family counseling. have very little or very poor communication among one another. To make progress, however, family members must be able to talk to each another effectively. The therapist can help guide family members as they discuss important topics by leading by example and steering the conversation.
One of the most critical aspects of communication is learning to engage in a manner that ensures others understand what is being said. The other is how to respond clearly and firmly without making judgments or casting blame.
Effective family communication is so essential to the recovery process that relapse or a return to general dysfunction is nearly inevitable without it.
Even after an individual stops abusing drugs or alcohol, the rest of the family may still be engaging in the same behaviors, whether they realize it or not. When someone has an addiction in a family unit, it is normal for other family members to do whatever is within their power to ensure that person is safe. Unfortunately, this often results in enabling behaviors, which serve only to further fuel the addiction.
And while the family member is clean or sober, he or she can still exhibit behaviors in recovery that resemble those of active addiction. When those behaviors are noticed, it is critical to avoid responding by enabling. Family counseling will help family members identify what behaviors qualify as enabling as well as help them identify positive behaviors to use in their place.
Self-care has many components, including good hygiene, proper nutrition, sleeping well, exercising, being mindful and engaging in hobbies and enjoyable activities. But when a loved one has an addiction, friends and family members may ignore personal self-care as they aim to protect the person in danger.
Through participation in family counseling, both the user and the rest of his or her family learn to accept and embrace that it is OK to take time for self-care and also develop new ways to accomplish these goals.
Family counseling can help everyone involved develop empathy for each other’s emotions, improve their understanding of addiction, prevent further substance abuse, and improve the mental and physical well-being of the entire family.
If you or a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, please do not wait another day before seeking help. Contact our center now and discover what options are available for treatment and start the journey toward sobriety, happiness, and wellness.