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How to Support an Addicted Family Member


How to Support an Addicted Family Member
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When a family member abuses drugs, everybody in that family is affected in one way or other. That’s because addiction can have psychological, emotional, environmental, and financial effects on a family. A person becomes an addict due to the chronic use of a drug or alcohol.

An individual that abuses marijuana or alcohol, for instance, is at a higher risk of using other substances like heroin and cocaine. Prolonged alcohol consumption or drug abuse increases the tolerance of the body. Thus, the body requires more of the addictive substance for the desirable effects to be achieved.

If you have an addicted family member, you know how it feels to deal with addiction, which is a sensitive issue. Many questions and emotions arise that can leave you feeling completely helpless. The unanswered questions that relate to the addiction topic usually lead families to despair. Nevertheless, it’s possible to support an addicted family member through their recovery journey. 


Why a Family Can Be Poisoned by Drugs/Alcohol

Alcoholism or addiction has an impact on people beyond the addict or alcoholic. Family members and people that care about an addict or relate with them experience the problems associated with this condition.

If help in family rehabilitation facilities is not sought, the problem can escalate. Eventually, the addict can withdraw from family members and society.

Over time, the sufferer can last out at family members that want to help them understand the effects of addiction. Financial problems can also arise in the family since the addict or alcoholic needs money to support their addiction.

Teens can start to steal money from their parents and use it to buy the addictive substance. Productivity loss among adults due to hangovers increased illness, and other negative effects of addiction can lead to joblessness.

Basically, family members depend on each other for support. Unfortunately, emotional and financial support erodes with time due to addiction. Children can experience problems that relate to the financial situation or conduct of a parent that is an addict or alcoholic.

For instance, children can experience mental or physical abuse as well as neglect. That’s because addicted parents are not aware of their actions or the need to take care of their children.

Research shows that children with addicted parents are at a higher risk of becoming drug and alcohol abusers due to family environment and genetic factors. What’s more, children whose parents are addicts have problems with social development.

That’s because addicted parents are unable or unwilling to support their endeavors. For instance, parents that are addict can miss events or neglect their children completely.

These are some of the reasons why a normal family can be poisoned by drugs or alcohol. Nevertheless, it’s still possible to support an addicted family member that wants to recover. However, it’s crucial to start by understanding why a loved one starts to abuse drugs or alcohol. 


Why a Family Member Starts to Abuse Drugs/Alcohol

Alcoholism or drug addiction starts with a voluntary act of using the addictive substance. However, the ability of an individual to decide not to use the addictive substance becomes compromised over time. Seeking and using the substance becomes compulsive.

That’s because of the effects that long-term exposure to the addiction substance has on their brain function. Essentially, addiction affects the brain parts that are involved in motivation and reward, memory and learning as well as behavior control.

Thus, addiction is basically a disease with effects on behavior and brain.

People start to abuse drugs or alcohol for varied reasons. For instance, teens can abuse drugs or alcohol for fun or due to peer pressure. Older people can abuse drugs while trying to deal with chronic illnesses. However, the continued use of addictive substances leads to its consumption in higher doses over time.

That’s why in some adults, drugs or alcohol abuse is a habit that started earlier in their lives. Nevertheless, there are older people that abuse drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with stresses of normal aging. Unfortunately, if help is not sought at family rehab facilities, the addiction problem worsens over time.

In some cases, alcohol or drug abuse starts as a mild problem which gradually develops into severe problems. For instance, an individual can mix alcohol and a drug in small amounts to achieve a more satisfying experience. Over time, the body can become dependent on chemicals that each substance releases. Eventually, they will have more craving for the same mix.

Once the body builds a tolerance to these substances, they may increase the consumed amount to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Afterward, the individual may start using substances that are more addictive such as cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy to get an intensified high. 


Approaches to Help

Family-based approaches focus on highlighting the need to involve the family in supporting the addicted family member. This includes parents, siblings and in some cases peers. A family-based approach is particularly important because it involves family counseling.

This counseling addresses different problems that relate to the addiction problem. For instance, counseling sessions can address family conflict or conflict issues that may have led to the addition of a family member.

Co-occurring mental health, learning, and behavioral disorders, as well as work attendance, peer networks, and school problems, can also be addressed during counseling.

Currently, there are many institutions that provide help to families with addicted loved ones. Some are outpatient rehabs while others are inpatients. They provide the guidance and support required by families to deal with addiction.

For instance, these institutions can offer Brief Strategic, Family Behavior, and Functional Family Therapy among others.

Generally, each institution has its own programs but they are all focused on helping the addicted person beat the problem with support from family members.

During therapy sessions, family members are educated on addiction, informed on the progress made by the addict, equipped with communication skills, and taught how to restore a healthy structure in the family.

Essentially, a family is trained to recover as a whole, not just the addicted family member. 


The Bottom Line

Supporting an addicted family member entails seeing addiction as a problem that the entire family has to deal with not just the person with the problem. Thus, a family should walk the recovery journey with the addicted loved one from the moment they seek help at a family rehabilitation center until they regain sobriety.

This is a Guest Post contributed by Jeffrey Buckley.

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