Families: The Silent Victims of Drug Addiction
During active drug and alcohol addiction, the focus is on the addict. The risks, the health problems, the violent outbursts, the need to remain high or drunk, the constant search for more money to buy more drugs and alcohol, the mood swings – it’s all about the addict. Few think about those who live with and love the addicted person. Children, spouses, extended family, and siblings are all deeply wounded by the untreated drug dependence of the person they love – emotionally and often physically as well – and while the focus is on getting the addict the help they need to recover, few consider the needs of the family in terms of helping them recover from the experience as well.
How Families are Hurt by Addiction
Addiction is not just the problem of the person physically and psychologically dependent upon an illicit substance. Families, too, are victims of the disorder, for a number of reasons. Many end up experiencing:
- Domestic violence. In domestic violence cases, more than half of all those reported involve drug and alcohol abuse. How many go unreported?
- Emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is even more common as family members are forced to deal with the mood swings of their addicted loved one and rarely given the room to have their own emotional issues related to this and other problems.
- Financial problems. Addiction is expensive, and the damage and problems caused by that addiction can be expensive, too. Few addicts can maintain a job and contribute to the family finances; rather, the addicted family member usually costs the family more money than all other members combined, which puts undue financial pressure and stress on everyone else.
- Social isolation. Embarrassment caused by the addicted family members’ erratic behavior and the need to “cover up” those problems often means that the family is isolated from others – which often serves to increase their sense of dysfunctional addiction as normal and decrease their chances of healing.
- Health problems. Family members of addicts often forego their own mental and physical healthcare in service of dealing with their loved one’s addiction. As a result, many suffer from untreated mental health disorders like depression and chronic ailments that go undiagnosed.
What Families Need to Heal
Family therapy is one of the best ways to address the issues related to an addiction in the family. If the addicted family member refuses to attend or is at an inpatient treatment center, family members can find healing and support through 12-step meetings, personal therapy, and other group therapy options. Learning how to prioritize one’s own health is essential to make sure that, in the event of the relapse of the addicted family member, others in the family remain protected.
Contact us at The Orchid today to learn more about our woman-centered drug rehab program and how we emphasize family healing.