Addiction is a massive concern in the entire country, tearing apart families and causing social problems. In Florida, for instance, 8% of the population have used illicit drugs at some point. Because addiction is a significant and looming problem, understand how it affects different family members.
Doing so enables one to provide the best possible support to their loved ones. It also allows everyone involved to seek help if necessary. It includes attending a Florida Al-Anon meeting, finding support groups, or therapy. Who’s affected by the addiction?
Addiction first affects the addict because they engage in harmful behavior. They may suffer from financial, legal, social, and health problems. In some cases, they may even lose their life.
However, remember, the addict didn’t choose to be where they are. They can’t just stop on their own. They need help. The best thing family members can do is to let them see how the behavior affects their lives and the family. Encourage them to seek help and give them the resources to do so.
More importantly, don’t enable the addict. You shouldn’t make excuses for their behavior or cover up for them. They must see how the addiction is negatively impacting their life. Also, don’t do anything that tempts them to relapse, such as keeping drugs or alcohol in the house.
The Spouse or Partner of the Addict
The spouse or partner of the addict is usually the next most affected. They deal with the addiction’s financial, social, and emotional fallout. In some cases, they may even have to deal with physical abuse. They also often develop a codependent relationship with the addict, enabling them to continue using.
The best way to deal with being the spouse or partner of an addict is to get support in the form of therapy, attending an Al-Anon meeting, or talking to friends and family. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep.
Be more independent where the addict’s actions don’t directly affect or control you. For instance, don’t give them access to your money. If you can, stay away but let them know you’re still there to help them recover.
The Children of the Addict
Children are also greatly affected by a parent’s addiction. In some cases, they suffer neglect and abuse. They may also witness fights or other negative behaviors. As a result, they develop issues such as anxiety, depression, or substance abuse. They may also have a more challenging time in school and developing relationships.
Because children are the most vulnerable beings, getting them help as soon as possible is critical. This is in the form of therapy, support groups, or even just talking to them. Some things to let a child know are:
It’s Not Your Fault
Children often feel responsible or guilty for the inappropriate behavior of their parents. They may think that their parents fight more because of something they’ve done or use drugs because they’ve been bad. In case of neglect, they may feel that the parents spend time away from them because they’re not good enough. Such feelings make children develop low self-esteem, leading to anxiety and depression.
It’s Okay To Talk About It
Some children feel like they need to keep the addiction a secret. They feel ashamed, embarrassed, or scared. They think that if they tell anyone, their family will be taken away or they’ll get in trouble.
Reassure the child it’s okay to talk about what’s happening and that you’re there to help. If they don’t feel comfortable talking to you, there are other people they can talk to, such as a therapist, teacher, or doctor.
Encourage them to express their concerns, fears, and feelings. It can be through writing, drawing, or talking. To strengthen your bond for them to trust you with such information, spend more time doing things they enjoy.
Go out to eat, play games, or watch movies together. Also, be more present when you are with them. Put away your phone, turn off the TV, and listen to what they’re saying.
Because addiction comes with other issues such as financial problems and legal issues, the whole family may suffer. In some cases, they may lose their home or have to declare bankruptcy. They may also be subject to judgment and criticism.
As a result, children may be teased at school or have difficulty making friends. Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings. You can also join a support group for families of addicts or get a therapist for the child.
The Extended Family
When addiction spirals out of control, it affects the addict’s extended family. It includes parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They may have to deal with the addict’s financial problems, legal issues, and social stigma. Sometimes, they have to take care of the addict’s children. They may also be the ones who stage an intervention.
Broken trust, hurt feelings, and resentment are common among family members of addicts. As a result, communication usually breaks down. To heal these wounds, talk to each other, be honest about your feelings and seek solutions together.
It’s also important to set boundaries. It means not enabling the addict or getting too involved in their problems. You should also take care of yourself and your needs, including a break from the situation if needed.
The Addict’s Friends
Friends of addicts often feel they have to choose between the addict and their well-being. They sometimes don’t know how to help their friend. In some cases, they may enable the addict by continuing to be friends or hanging out with them while using. They may also feel guilty or responsible for the addict’s problems.
Although you can’t control a friend’s addiction, you can offer your support. Be there and help them find resources when they’re struggling. When your friend is sober, candidly discuss your concerns and how their addiction affects you. If unable to handle the situation, don’t be afraid to take a break from the friendship.
Focus on Rebuilding the Family Bond
The hardest thing to watch is how addiction affects families, ruining relationships and causing pain and suffering. The key to helping the affected is to initiate effective communication.
Realizing that blame, anger, and resentment will only make the situation worse is a critical first step. Seeking help as a family from a therapist, support group, or intervention specialist is the best way to rebuild what addiction has destroyed.