Drug Addiction and the Family

Drug addiction can be life shattering, not only for addicts, but for the members of their family. Watching someone destroy their life with drug abuse is never easy, and often the behavior of addicts can put a severe strain on family relationships. While getting that person into treatment is a vital first step, it doesn’t stop there. Families often should get involved with recovery, to provide support to keep addiction issues from continuing into the future. Whether it means family members attend a program themselves or attend therapy, professional guidance is crucial for protecting the long-term health of the family and person in recovery.

Drug Addiction as a Family Disease

Even at its biological roots, drug addiction is a family disease. More than half of the factors that determine the susceptibility of addiction are genetic, meaning if one member of the family is struggling with substance abuse, it’s very likely that other members of the family might struggle with addiction themselves. If that’s the case, all family members will need to overcome their addictions for long-term healing to take place, as the home will be filled with temptation if one person continues to use. Even discounting biological predispositions to use, the effects of drug addiction spread throughout the family, involving everyone in its negative repercussions.

Enabling Family Members

As isolating as drug addiction is, more often than not there are family members who behave in ways that aid an addict’s addiction. This behavior is known as “enabling,” and is typically manifested in the following actions:

  • Making excuses for addict’s absences at work
  • Paying for their rent, clothing, or food
  • Raising the addict’s children
  • Making excuses for the person’s behavior to friends and family members
  • Caring for the individual when they’re sick due to drug use

Under different circumstances, these actions would be generous, but in the case of drug abuse, the family is only protecting the individual from the consequences of addiction. An addict may see no reason to get treatment when family members permit his or her behavior. Painful as it may be, sometimes your loved one needs to be subject to the negative effects of their addiction before they’re ready to seek help.

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Addiction, Theft, and Lying

Drug abuse is an expensive habit, especially once an individual has built up a tolerance. The more someone uses a substance, the more of the substance they need to achieve the same effects. A high that once cost a few dollars could quickly become a high that costs hundreds. For some addicts, the only way to afford such a costly habit is through theft. They may grab cash directly out of a family member’s wallet, or borrow under the guise of paying bills, only to spend the money on drugs.

Unfortunately, the lies don’t begin and end with money. Some addicts lie about their drug use itself, pretending attempts to get clean but hiding their relapses. These lies not only hurt the addict, but erode the trust between family members. How can they believe anything the addict says, when so much of what they express are lies?

The topic of lying needs to be hashed out during the recovery process. Even after a thorough treatment program, family members may have a hard time believing the addict is truly clean because he or she has lied about in the past. Some people report feeling resigned to start using again since their family members already believe that they are. It’s vital to work on re-establishing the bond of trust among family members in order for long-lasting recovery to take place.

Family Treatment

Drug addiction doesn’t occur in a vacuum, and it’s important for all family members to be a part of the treatment process. Family therapy that happens as part of the treatment programcan help loved ones understand addiction from a broader perspective, and often makes for a smoother recovery. There are also support groups for families of addicts, where they can learn from and gain support from others in their same situation. Recovering from addiction is a difficult road, and not just for the addict. But together, everyone can grow from the experience, and come out together with stronger relationships in recovery.

If you’d like to learn more about how drug addiction affects families, please contact us today. We’d love to tell you more about the roles families play in the fight against addiction.