Multi Family Support Group
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The Consequences of Addiction on a Family
One in five children in the US grow up in homes with parents who struggle with substance abuse. When this substance abuse goes untreated, it can have severe effects on the entire family, but children especially. Below are just some the consequences of untreated addiction trauma in family members:
- Learned helplessness—When a person can’t change the negative circumstances in their life, they eventually give up, and this helplessness affects other areas of their life.
- Depression—Painful negative emotions that are unexpressed or unresolved can turn inward mentally, causing depression.
- Anxiety—A general sense of anxiety may lead the sufferer to project that turmoil onto a phobia, insomnia, or hyper-vigilance.
- Emotional constriction—People can become numb, and their emotions shut down in the face of panic.
- Desire to self-medicate—A pain-filled inner world may lead to the use of drugs, alcohol, or behavioral addictions to attempt to find peace.
Beachway Therapy Center’s
Family Addiction Recovery
Resources for Families and Friends
of Addicts and Alcoholics
Beyond Codependency: And Getting Better All the Time by Melody Beattie
Codependents’ Guide to the Twelve Steps by Melody Beattie
The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie
One Day at a Time in Al-Anon by Al-Anon Family Group Head Inc
Courage to Change: One Day at a Time in Al-Anon II by Al-Anon Family Group Head Inc
Addict in the Family: Stories of Loss, Hope and Recovery by Beverly Conyers
Everything Changes: Help for Families of Newly Recovering Addicts by Beverly Conyers
Alcoholics Anonymous (Chapters 8 and 9: To Wives and The Family Afterwards) by AA World Services
The Challenges of Learning
How To Support Someone in
The first hurdle when learning how to support someone in rehab may be keeping the patient in treatment. The vast majority of people coming into treatment will want to leave prematurely at some point. The “fight, flight or freeze” response to stress – and treatment can be stressful. Often this happens in the first few days when the patient is still detoxing and is uncomfortable.
The desire to stop the discomfort and pain can overcome any rational thinking, and the denial can be so powerful that the patient is unaware that they aren’t making smart choices. The family has to be strong enough to say no to their loved one when they ask to come home. Sometimes this might mean removing all access to funds, not taking phone calls, and allowing the patient to confront their own discomfort.
The dichotomy is that the more the family tries to help or rescue their loved one, the more they actually enable or contribute to the disease and potentially prevent them from recovering.