Helping Families Cope with an Addicted Loved One
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10-20-12 Category: Addiction Treatment


Anyone who has had to take care of a loved one dependent on drugs or alcohol knows that the emotional and psychological effect on the family can be devastating. However, if you have the proper support to get you through this difficult time, it can be an immensely rewarding experience.

How Educating Yourself is the First Step

Unfortunately, most people think that substance abuse is a choice, and that the person addicted just made the wrong choice, so they are not as good a person as someone who chooses not to take drugs. This brings a lot of shame to the family and further intensifies the problem as they try to quietly sort it out on their own. However, scientific research into the causes of addiction has shown that it is not a matter of choice. It may start as a curiosity, but for various reasons, some mental and some physical, each person reacts differently. It explains why many people try drugs, but only some get addicted; most can drink responsibly, but some can’t.

Addiction is a disease and has a predictable path of progression, side effects and withdrawal symptoms just like heart disease or cancer. Getting over an addiction is not a question of will power. For successful drug addiction treatment it is important to educate yourself, and understand the root cause. Find out what is making your loved one behave this way. Learning about the disease will reduce your anxiety and help you approach your loved one in a fearless and shameless way.

Dual diagnosis treatment is a relatively new approach to addiction recovery. Until recently, a person receiving treatment for an addiction was denied mental health treatment until they completely recovered from their addiction. However, research has shown that often the underlying cause of an addiction is a psychiatric disorder. Dual diagnosis treatment is required in such cases. It is imperative that their mental health be treated along with the process of physical detoxification.

Are You Unknowingly Encouraging the Addiction?

It is not easy when a family member’s behavior is creating chaos and tearing everyone apart. You may want to cover up their actions and never directly admit or approach them about it. This is when you become a codependent, and you are only making the problem worse. The addict sees your lenience, and because of their desperation, they will manipulate you to get what they want.

Treatment for codependents is just as important as it is for the addict. A good treatment center will include you, the caregiver, and any other family members concerned in the recovery process. You will learn tools to distance yourself from your loved one and restore the balance of power. This will enable you to have a detached approach and to reestablish boundaries and accept your loved one’s addiction in a way that will help him or her out of it instead of letting them take advantage of you.

Reach Out For Help

Emotional and mental health treatment is the basis of a quality drug addiction treatment program because addiction to any substance is a complex problem. There are many related issues that need to be treated in order to heal, and you as a caregiver and the rest of the family are the most important part. Past traumatic events, broken relationships and financial or legal difficulties are examples of some of the problems that need to be addressed.

You can’t take care of it all on your own. Trying to take responsibility will only isolate you more, and this is the opposite of what you want. Talk to trustworthy friends or coworkers, and call mental health or addiction treatment centers for information and support. Joining support groups for family members of substance abusers is a good idea. At the very least, they will let you know you are not alone and help remove the guilt you feel.

Consider an Intervention

An intervention is a process where the family takes a stand and makes the addicted person see how treatment is the only way to get away from their addiction and regain a normal life. Although a willing participant is best, treatment does not have to be voluntary to be successful. Most often, after they begin to sober up, they are ready to continue with the mental health treatment process. An intervention takes a lot of planning and has several stages, but when it is executed properly, there is a very high success rate of the individual recovering.

Taking care of someone with an addiction can consume you completely. Don’t forget to take care of yourself as that is the key to putting your life and family back together.

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