Dependence on alcohol and drugs is one of the most serious health problems in the United States. It is prevalent among any class of the society: rich and poor, in all regions of the country, and all ethnic and social groups. Millions of people are dependent on alcohol or drugs, and all of them have families who suffer the consequences of living with this health problem.
Most people with alcohol or drug abuse have jobs and are productive members of society creating false hope in the family that “everything is good.” However, the addiction tends to worsen over time, hurting both the addicted person and all the family members. It is especially damaging to children and adolescents. People with this health problem may believe that they drink normally or that “everyone” takes drugs. These false beliefs are called denial; this denial is a part of alcohol or drug abuse.
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Addiction is a family disease that stresses the family to the breaking point. It impacts the stability of the home, the family’s unity, mental health, physical health, finances, and overall family dynamics.
It Doesn’t Have to be That Way
Drug or alcohol abuse is a medical condition that can be treated effectively. Thousands of people are in healthy recovery from this disease. If you found out that someone close to you misuses alcohol or drugs, the first step is, to be honest about the problem and to seek help for this person, his family, and other close people who can suffer being around an addicted person. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, in many different forms, and for different lengths of time. Stopping alcohol or drug use is an essential step to recovery, and most people need help to stop. People with alcohol or drug dependence need treatment provided by professionals.
An important step toward healing for the addicted person and an entire family is getting a loved one to agree to accept help and finding support services for all family members.
When an addicted person is reluctant to seek help, family members, friends, and other close people should strongly urge the person to start treatment finding serious consequences of not doing so, such as a family breakup or job loss. This is called “intervention.”
When carefully prepared and done with the guidance of a competent, trained specialist, the family, friends, and associates are usually able to convince their loved one – in a firm and loving manner – that the only choice is to accept help and begin the road to recovery. People with alcohol or drug dependence problems can and do recover. Intervention is often the first step.
Children of Alcoholics and Drug Addicts
Addiction and family are closely tied but among all of the family members, no one suffers as much as children. Children living with an addicted parent may feel the effects of drug abuse long after childhood and well into adulthood. Alcoholism and drug addiction of parents can create poor self-image, loneliness, guilt, anxiety, feelings of helplessness, fear of abandonment, and chronic depression in children. These problems can lead to more severe problems later in life. Maternal substance abuse during pregnancy can also lead to a host of behavioral and developmental disorders in children.
Children in families experiencing alcohol or drug abuse need attention, guidance, and support. They may be growing up in homes in which the problems are either denied or covered up. These children need to have their experiences validated. They also need safe, reliable adults with whom to confide and who will support them, reassure them, and provide them with appropriate help for their age. They need to have fun and just be kids.
Families with alcohol and drug problems usually have high levels of stress and confusion.
High-stress family environments are a risk factor for early and dangerous substance use, as well as mental and physical health problems. It is important to talk honestly with children about what is happening in the family. And help them express their concerns and feelings. Children need to trust the adults in their lives and to believe that they will support them.
Nearly every person in contact with an addict is impacted in some way. Since the effects of drug and alcohol addiction on family members are so strong, addiction recovery needs to heal the whole family. If your family is suffering from a loved one’s addiction, an addiction family program of Hathaway Recovery may be able to help.
Families are getting their loved ones back after addiction. This is Hathaway’s Recovery mission – to see the love and reunion of families after darkness and tears. Don’t wait, contact Hathaway Recovery now.
Hathaway Recovery Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center
Treatment Center, MD, LCSW, LMFT, ASAM
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: (909) 971-3333
Fax (909) 498-9898
1042 East Belmont Abbey Lane, Claremont, CA 91711