By: Laura Lawrence, MA, CAP, Director of Outpatient and Family Services
Time and time again we hear that addiction is a family disease. What exactly does that mean? We aren’t the ones using alcohol and drugs! It is often difficult for us to see our role in the addicts use and even more difficult to separate ourselves from the drama and consequences that are part of everyday life in addiction.
One way to look at it is to compare the way an addict needs their drink or drug with the way we need the addict. If they are Ok, so are we, if they are struggling we are also. Our peace of mind is directly related to how they are feeling and behaving and we are unable to get any rest knowing that they are continuing to struggle.
We hear the term enabling, but don’t understand exactly what that means and how loving someone can actually contribute to their addiction.
No addict can continue to use without some form of enabling. It may be a family member, employer or friend, but every addict needs someone to provide the means to continue use. It is easy for us to point the finger at those we think are responsible, but difficult to look at our own actions. Family members are usually the chief enablers often providing food, shelter and money out of fear that the addict will do something drastic if left without. Without help for ourselves, however, we will “Love them to death”.
Al Anon, Nar Anon, Families Anonymous and Codependents Anonymous are all support groups that help us cope with the effects of addiction. They are free of charge and use the same 12 steps as AA or NA.
Addiction affects us all, but so does recovery. The more we are engaged in our own program, the greater the likelihood that our loved one will find recovery of their own.
To learn more about our comprehensive family program and how our clients’ families can be involved in their recovery, click HERE.