For many people who struggle with addiction, the care of family members is what helps them enter the road to recovery. Family can also be a major part of a person staying in recovery. Families of addicts can play important roles in motivating their loved ones to enter treatment facilities. It’s important to understand how powerful the help of loved ones can be.
It also helps to know how addiction affects families That way family members of individuals that suffer from addiction can attend support groups for families of addicts if they want to. In support groups for families of addicts, loved ones of individuals that suffer from addiction may even learn how to identify the signs of addiction.
How Addiction Affects Families of Addicts
For humans in today’s society, the family structure is still the main source of attachment, nurturing, and support. Because natural instincts lead most people to desire a connection with family members, having the support of them during difficult times can help a person survive.
Just as humans develop in stages, families develop and evolve in stages. Because of this, it is important to know the level of development families of addicts are in when a person enters an addiction treatment program.
Addiction can affect families of addicts in multiple ways. Since every family has unique needs and attributes, the effects that addiction has on them differs. Also, the effects that addiction can have on families of addicts can differ between individuals within a family unit based on each family member’s perceptions, experiences, and relationships with the individual who struggles with addiction.
Below are some of the resulting problems that affect families of addicts:
- Strained relationships because of behavior changes.
- Financial hardships because of a family member’s poor judgment.
- Poor school or work performance from stress or lack of sleep due to the loved one’s addiction.
- Exposure to dangerous people or drugs.
- Loss of personal valuables that a loved one steals to sell for money to buy a substance.
- Pain, anguish, and grief from an addicted loved one’s many changes.
How Addiction Affects the Mental Health of Families of Addicts
In some cases, the effects of addiction can contribute to the development of mental health disorders in family members of addicts. The stress of addiction within a family may also worsen other existing problems in family members. For example, if the mother of a young adult with a cocaine addiction continually stays up waiting for her child to come home, her anxiety may get worse quickly.
Another example of the effects that addiction can have on family members of addicts include a son of a father who has an addiction developing depression from the father’s verbal abuse. Even though that same father may not make disparaging remarks when he is sober, the words and actions still hurt.
Such effects often go beyond the nuclear family and extend over into making family members of addicts feel angry, anxious, and etc. Thus, it’s not uncommon for family members of addicts to develop mental health issues.
Understanding Family Therapy for Addiction
Family therapy is an important part of most addiction treatment programs. In addition to family therapy, professionals use individual therapy to address the specific needs of the person who struggles with addiction. There may also be group therapy in addiction treatment, which involves others who struggle with the same type of addiction.
During family therapy, addiction treatment professionals meet with families of addicts to discuss the unique effects that their loved ones’ addictions has had on them. For example, a person’s addiction may cause his or her younger sibling to experience feelings of rejection, anger, and resentment.
One parent of an addict may also feel shame and sadness. Parents of addicts may even feel anger and resentment. It’s important for therapists to understand each family member’s perceptions and experiences when it comes to addiction. Addiction treatment therapists also work with families of addicts to help them achieve several goals.
Goals of Families of Addicts
The goals of families of addicts may involve treating the mental health issues of any family member that is suffering in some way. Such treatment may involve behavior identification and modification techniques to help family members get along and communicate.
Addiction treatment therapists can even help families of addicts work past issues that may have existed even before their loved ones developed substance addictions. Treating the issues of family members of addicts early on is important as some of these issues may cause anxiety, depression, or mood disorders to later develop. By changing problematic behaviors, improving communication, and understanding addiction though, families of addicts can support one another and their addicted loved ones.
In some families of addicts, there may be specific circumstances that require treatment. For example, if there is a family with an adolescent who is addicted to drugs, the adolescent may behave in risky ways. A special therapy approach may help reduce such risky behavior. Ultimately, addiction treatment therapists identify various, specific needs of family members of addicts and then develop comprehensive treatment plans that are based on those needs.
Importance of Family Support in Addiction Recovery
One of the most important outcomes of family therapy is teaching family members how to support a loved one with an addiction. When a family member becomes addicted to a substance, his or her behaviors change. Thus, such family members may do things that they would not normally do. For example, a person that suffers from addiction may lie, steal, or commit crimes to obtain money or more substances.
It can be difficult to understand the disease of addiction and how it affects the brain. Ultimately though, the physical and chemical effects of addiction on the brain lead to poorer judgment and impulse control.
When families of addicts understand how addiction works, it’s easier for them to seek help for their struggling loved ones. During addiction therapy, therapists help families of addicts work past barriers or problems. After that, families of addicts learn how to provide nurturing support and avoid any actions that may discourage a person from recovery. Having adequate family support can be the difference between choosing to stay in recovery or relapsing.
Family members of addicts often serve as caregivers. As a result, they can experience burnout over time. With family therapy for addiction treatment though, such family members learn how to take care of their own mental and physical health while still offering their addicted loved ones support. That way both the supportive needs of the addict and the family members of the addict get met.
Importance of Support Groups for Families of Addicts
Just like it’s important for families of addicts to support their addicted loved ones without enabling them, it’s also important for families of addicts to receive some sort of support. Support groups for families of addicts are important because if family members of addicts stop taking care of themselves and their own mental health needs, they won’t be able to help support and take care of the needs of their addicted loved ones.
Think of it like when people need to put on their oxygen masks in an airplane emergency. One needs to put on his or her own oxygen mask before helping to put one on someone else.
Families of addicts can receive support through family therapy at addiction treatment centers. There are also anonymous or non-anonymous support groups for families of addicts that individuals can search for.
Benefits of Family Therapy for Families of Addicts
Family support in addiction recovery has other benefits beyond support for a loved one and working through family issues. These are some examples of the other benefits:
- Being able to reduce several types of safety risks associated with substance use.
- Therapy can help families distribute responsibilities more evenly or fairly.
- It can improve the effectiveness of communication between family members.
- Therapy can help families create healthy boundaries.
- Therapy can help any family members who may be in denial about the addiction in the family come to terms with reality.
In many families of addicts, there is an issue of codependency. This dysfunctional response often happens when a family member doesn’t know how to deal with the addicted loved one.
A codependent family member may be so concerned about the addicted loved one that irrational behaviors develop. For example, the codependent person may worry excessively about the addicted family member, make excuses for the addicted family member, or neglect self-care to focus on the addicted family member.
There are other issues that develop amongst families of addicts as well. For example, therapists can help families of addicts with codependency and addiction issues.
Helping a Loved One and Recognizing Signs of Addiction
The first step to overcoming a problem is admitting a problem exists. Many people struggle to admit that they have a problem though. For example, an addicted family member may make excuses for his or her behavior.
Although most people try to hide their substance misuse, family members of addicts are often the first ones to detect problems. A family member with an addiction may claim that he or she can stop using substances easily. There may later be coincidental excuses for continuing substance use though. It’s situations like these in which it’s important to give family support without acting as enablers.
Well-meaning family members may believe the excuses of their loved ones and thus, inadvertently continue enabling their loved ones’ addictions. To avoid doing this, family members of addicts must recognize the signs of addiction for themselves.
These are some signs of addiction to watch for:
- An increase in lack of judgment and poor decisions.
- New financial or legal troubles.
- Dramatic mood swings that may or may not include violent behavior.
- Guarding a bag, a drawer, or another personal area where the substance is kept.
- Neglecting hygiene, social commitments, family obligations, or work.
- Exhibiting dramatic changes in energy levels, such as excessive sleepiness or excessive talkativeness.
Family members of addicts may also find a stash of alcohol bottles, pill bottles, or drug paraphernalia somewhere. When a loved one shows signs of addiction, it’s time to seek help. Convincing a loved one to seek treatment is usually challenging though.
Treatment centers can help families fine-tune their skills and experience interventions. These treatment center professionals know how to help families plan a meaningful intervention. This is because they assist in developing impact statements, setting boundaries, choosing consequences, and more.
Finding Family Therapy for Addiction in Tennessee
At Grace Land Recovery here near Memphis, Tennessee, we acknowledge the importance of family support in addiction recovery. Since recovery is a lifelong battle and journey for every person involved who struggles with addiction, we focus on both short-term and long-term solutions. Here at Grace Land, we offer a variety of program structures and therapy approaches. Also, we teach people the keys to beating the cycle of addiction.
If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, we are here to help. Our team uses family therapy to pinpoint the unique issues that affect each person individually in a family. We also find the issues that affect the family as a unit.
By teaching people how to communicate, change behaviors, and provide nurturing support, we equip them with the knowledge and skills to help their loved ones stay in recovery. To learn more about family support for an addicted loved one or support for families of addicts please contact us.