The Challenges Faced by a Drug Addict’s Family

It is common knowledge that a drug addict faces a hard mental health journey, whether they seek to end their addiction or not. Just as important, however, are the struggles faced by the addict’s family. Addiction is a disease that affects the whole family; nothing is as hard as watching a loved one suffer. A primary struggle is how to help the addict. It is important for family and friends not to enable the addict to continue their addiction. However, you do not want to stigmatize drug use, so that your family member does not ask for help anymore. One important thing to remember is to urge your loved one to get professional help with their substance abuse. You should also encourage them to make lifestyle changes for better health. An intervention may be necessary to convince your loved one to reach out for professional help.

Another way to help is to understand how addiction works: from changing brain chemistry to the risks of continuing the substance. This will help you and your family member understand treatment options. To avoid stigmatizing addiction, you should not conceal the individual’s addiction as an embarrassment because it will drive the loved one to isolation. It can even harm family communication and cause stress. Tough love such as boundaries and enforcing rules may be necessary to stop enabling your loved one’s addiction. These steps may help save the addict’s life, but it can be a frustrating and stressful process for your family no matter the outcome. It is essential for you to seek family and individual counseling to cope with emotional stresses. Therapy groups may also be helpful, so that you can be supported by people with similar experiences. Some therapy options are: Nar-Anon, Al-Anon, ACoA,  and other third-party treatment centers. You should also take time for yourself, to remember you are responsible for your own happiness.

If worse comes to worst, the best thing for you to do may be to cease connection with that loved one and heal yourself first. It may seem hard-hearted, but ultimately you are the only one who will care for your well-being. Members of my family have had serious addiction problems. We did not take these steps, and the addicts still face their demons. The consequences of their addiction affected my family profoundly causing and worsening our darkest hours. I know that we will carry those scars for the rest of our lives. The guilt of parents who did not prevent the issue, the fear for that loved one’s life, the fear of a younger family member that they will end up the same way, and the anger that the addiction and family support continue. Upon reflection, I now realize that many of my actions have stemmed from distaste for anything associated that addiction. From drinking to drugs, I never wanted anything to do with any of it. I am working on my emotional turmoil from addiction, and sometimes I struggle. Maybe it will take time, but one day I know it will be better.