The hardship and grief that comes with addiction is rarely limited to the addicted individual. The effects of this disease are felt by all those who love the person. Often, the family of the addicted person experiences unhealthy levels of stress and anguish as they feel powerless to help their loved one but yet feel a responsibility to manage the consequences of their loved one’s substance use.
Addiction Is a Family Disease
Family members may struggle with the following:1
- Emotional turmoil, including feelings of frustration, anger, worry, shame, and guilt.
- Financial burden from lending money, paying rent, paying legal costs, helping with other expenses, etc.
- Relationship conflict over substance use and associated problems and instability in the family due to breakups, violence, or abuse.
It’s easy to see why addiction is commonly called “a family disease” when you consider the anxiety, worry, conflict, shame and economic burden that befalls family members who love someone who is unable to stop compulsively using substances despite all the adverse consequences that occur as a result.
Resources for Family Members
If you’re struggling to help someone who is living with a drug or alcohol addiction, you may be at a loss for how to move forward. We understand how difficult it can be to navigate this type of situation, and we are here for you. Our Admissions Navigators are available any time of day or night to discuss the best ways to get your loved one the help they need.
You can also read a number of resources for family members here:
- Guide for Families, Part 1
- Guide for Families, Part 2
- Guide for Parents
- Guide for Spouses
- Guide for Children
In these family resource guides, you’ll find information on:
- The signs of substance abuse.
- Tips on talking to your loved one about their drug or alcohol use.
- Setting healthy boundaries and creating clear consequences.
- The range of available addiction treatment options.
- Things to consider when choosing an inpatient or outpatient program.
- Methods of paying for treatment.
- The role family members play in recovery.
What to Remember
As you attempt to get help for your loved one, remember some things:2
- You didn’t cause their addiction.
- You can’t control it.
- You can’t cure it.
You cannot control the choices your loved one makes, and you cannot fix the problem for them. Taking on the burden of their actions only makes you less healthy and doesn’t help your loved one in the long term. However, you can provide nonjudgmental support for your loved one and encourage them consistently to see a doctor or to seek treatment. As you approach your loved one, you may express concern for how their substance use is affecting them and the family negatively. It is bound to be difficult to bring up the issue with your family member, as they may be defensive or refuse to admit there’s a problem; however, having an honest conversation can set the stage for your loved one to admit they need help and take the first step.
- Daley, D.C. (2013). Family and social aspects of substance use disorders and treatment. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, 21(4), S73-S76.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (n.d.). Remember the 7 Cs.