Addiction is a disease – and while it is not contagious in the classic sense, its effects spread across families and through relationships. One case of addiction is not just the story of an individual, but a story in general, with an entire case of characters. Understanding how addiction can affect others will not only spread awareness on how important it is to stand against addiction, but it can help others learn how to stand against addiction.
Addiction is not a matter of choice, although it begins with a mistake. We are all human, and we all make questionable choices, especially in times of great stress, loss, loneliness, or sorrow. Yet unlike many other choices, the fallout from addiction can be a lifelong compulsion. Thankfully, due to decades of psychiatric research and an improved understanding of the brain, treatments today exist to help anyone who is struggling with their addiction.
But they cannot do it alone. Addiction may be an individual disease, but it takes a village to help someone stay sober – and when handled poorly, attempts to help someone get clean can tear a family apart.
Struggling With Addiction
Addiction can lead to serious financial issues. Not only does an addiction jeopardize a person’s career, but it can lead to legal costs, damages, arrests, and the cost of the drug use itself which can pile up rapidly.
Depending on the severity of the addiction, sometimes hospital bills will have to figure into the equation as well. It is not uncommon for a family to struggle financially due to an addicted family member – which is why seeking help sooner rather than later is important.
Miscommunication and Arguments
A misplaced sentence, a fit of rage, a loss of understanding – it can be incredibly frustrating to live with addict, because the nature of their disease dictates that they never learn if they’re struggling with their addiction.
That, and because of the effect drug use has on the brain, it is not uncommon for an intoxicated addict to say things they don’t mean, or do things they would never do sober, becoming a source of strife and embarrassment at home and at outings and family gatherings.
Enabling and Mistreatment
Whether out of a misguided sense of love or out of spite, families can engage in incredibly destructive and negative behavior when dealing with an addicted loved one. From enabling their behavior, to abuse from the addict towards others, or from others towards the addict, there are many ways an addiction can create a dysfunctional and even violent household.
Addressing these issues can be incredibly difficult and personal, but when things come to a point, there is no sense in handling it internally. It is important to call for professional help.
The Importance Of Proper Communication
The one thing all failed relationships have in common is a failure to properly communicate. At its most basic level, the importance for clear communication is simple. When we want something from someone, we need to tell them in a way they can understand.
The trouble is that human relationships can become extremely complex. Our interests conflict, and so we lie or manipulate to win one thing from the other. Such episodes lead to resentment and a loss of trust, and clear communication becomes ever more difficult. Instead of taking words at face value, we try to read their intent, and uncover a plot.
Sadly, this happens all too often within families and between friends. Insecurity, anxiety, anger, or other negative emotions keep us from simply being straight – or our words someone we care about without us meaning it.
When used properly, communication can help foster cooperation and bring families together – even against an issue like addiction. Family therapy is a form of addiction treatment that involves everyone in the family coming in to help with therapy, perhaps to make peace or reconcile, or to clear up past misunderstandings.
Learning More About Addiction
Addiction in the family is incredibly difficult to deal with – but the damage it deals varies widely based on how it is dealt with.
If you shun or isolate the addict, things will get worse. If you embrace their behavior as part of who they are and enable them just to keep them from acting out, tragedy is guaranteed. If you take your own approach and “discipline” them into sobriety without their consent or cooperation, they will bounce back into addiction harder than ever.
Successful addiction treatment exists and is practiced in treatment facilities all over the country. Different programs for different cases, tailored to each individual, built to help them get better – with your assistance. If you let the addiction win by neglecting to take the right approach, the damage to the family will be even more severe. But with treatment, therapy, and the right education for everyone involved, the disease can be curbed and successfully mitigated.
There are many things to learn, and every family can start by considering how their actions and words affect people going through an addiction. Addiction is compulsory and uncontrollable – it takes a powerful external force to get someone to go sober, even if only temporarily.
From there, staying clean is very difficult – and although it gets easier with time, the lure of addiction should never be underestimated. Blame, anger, shame – these feelings only make things worse, and should never be given a voice. As a friend or family member, you must be strong, resolute, and compassionate if you want to help someone stay sober – and most importantly, you must look after your own mental and emotional health.
Just as addiction can tear families apart, it can be the fight you need to all come together. Fighting something like addiction and surviving all the scraps it brings into the family home is not just painful; it presents a crucial opportunity for everyone to come together and stick together.
To beat an addiction, you must absolutely want to get sober, and you need people who can support you and help you keep sober.
In the beginning, it is normal to rely on that support – even after an early treatment, like rehab. The temptations are strong and fresh, and the mental havoc of being clean while fighting against the aftermath of addiction can be harrowing.
As the weeks go by, sobriety can help you build a new life for yourself – get work, find hobbies, make new friends, and find ways to productively spend your time. There will be ups and downs, but it is a steady climb.
And with time, you will not have to rely on others to keep you sober. But having strong relationships with everyone in your family, and having a reliable social circle you can trust, both go a long way towards giving you all the reason never to consider your old habits again.