Alcoholism and Substance Addiction Are Family Diseases

Published: 19th November 2016
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Addiction and alcohol dependency aren't only an issue of treating the addict or alcoholic, the whole family should probably admit their pain and get help.

As Al-Anon says, family members and good friends tend to be relieved and surprised after they learn they did not cause the alcoholism, and also that they can't cure it and they cannot control it.



A family with a alcoholic or substance abuser becomes dysfunctional and slips into turmoil and crisis. It is no longer a healthful healthy system. As the alcohol and drug abuse progresses family members also will become unhealthy: socially, financially, mentally, emotionally and possibly even physically - with poor health and wellbeing as a result of a variety of stress-related complications.

Spiritually there is a lack of hope and an end to happiness. Family members are not able to distinguish the sickness from the individual they love, so there is a struggle between loving the addict and holding them in contempt. An atmosphere of confidence, courtesy, respect, love and kindness is replaced with one of distrust, dread, betrayal, sadness and resentment.

Co-dependency will grow as a response to the disorderly circumstances in the family of the alcoholic/drug addict and results in less healthy kinds of relating and behavior. Commonly co-dependents manifest compulsions of their own and a loss of control much like that of the substance addict.

Unhealthy feelings, thinking and reactions between family members and the alcoholic or drug addict begin as coping mechanisms that can help family members survive when they start experiencing great emotional pain, however, these soon become self-defeating. Co-dependency patterns can include controlling, perfectionism, repression of emotions and thoughts, unreasonable rules, a lack of authentic intimacy, and behavioural obsessions, like working too much, overspending, overeating, religiosity, or anything else.

Families with members battling drug addiction or alcohol addiction also experience signs of denial. Many fail to admit the magnitude or progression of the condition. Forms of denial include anger, blame, minimizing the condition, justifications, evasion and deflection. Denial blinds the alcoholic or substance addict as well as their family from recognizing the truth.

Enabling is a common solution to chemical dependency that may many forms. It allows the alcoholic or drug addict to avoid the effects of his or her substance abuse and behavior. The enabler is a family member or friend who attempts to assist the alcoholic or drug addict and who will lie for and rescue the drug abuser or alcoholic from various misfortunes. Even though the enabler may believe they are assisting the person with an chemical dependency the opposite is true. Enablers encourage the illness of chemical dependency to progress to far more serious levels.

I believe the addicts recovery is dependent on their family's recovery. That's why treatment should include educational and family group therapy sessions. Within this safe surrounding both the addict/alcoholic and the family can be granted a chance to get started on the healing of the now and again catastrophic consequences of their abusing drugs.

Self-care along with the proper care of members of the family has to become the top priority. Never let your family life to become overshadowed by the negativity of chemical dependency. Alcoholism and substance abuse causes isolation, a sense of guilt and humiliation. Via breaking the cycle of silence and denial both the chemically dependent and their loved ones can begin to understand, release shame and process repressed emotions and thoughts. The family can learn that everyone performed a part in the addiction but, no one is responsible for creating it.

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