Addiction is a chronic disease afflicting millions of families. Families of addicts suffer greatly as their loved ones succumb to unhealthy choices and consequences. Addiction also often fuels disappointment, misunderstandings, mistrust, and devastation among the closest relatives of addicts. That’s why support groups for families of addicts are necessary.
Although one person in a family may struggle with addiction, the disease impacts everyone involved with the individual. The relationships and home environment that should be nurturing, affirming, and secure can become toxic, unstable, and unsafe. Support groups for families of addicts can light the way to understanding and healing in this unfortunate situation.
Is addiction threatening to unravel your family ties? Reach out to Grace Land Recovery in Memphis, TN, today. We’ll empower you with knowledge and encouragement to help hold your loved ones together.
How Does Addiction Affect Family Members of Addicts?
Families have their own dynamics and intimate relationships with clear and assumed roles and responsibilities for each member. Each family member’s personalities and behaviors influence the others’. Active addiction throws off a family’s balance as members struggle with irrational moods and actions brought on by the illness. Below are ways that addiction causes negative effects on families of addicts.
Losing a Living Person
SUD frequently robs families of sound, fulfilling relationships and co-existence with the addict. The emotional and financial drain of addiction siphons the life out of many loving relationships, forcing family members to sever themselves from their sick loved ones. In fact, in a 2021 study exploring caregiver experiences with addiction, participants reported feeling as if their loved ones had died.
Uneasiness At Home
Addiction drives victims to do whatever it takes to get high or drunk, even by stealing from the ones they love. Families of addicts living at home commonly report missing electronic devices, money, and other material goods. The addict may even invite other addicts into the home, creating more tension, and potential danger, for the other family members.
Addiction forms a vicious cycle of denial, stress, deprivation, and possibly, violence. Families may experience crises arising from neglect, abuse, and need for care. An article published in Alcohol decades ago offers a timeless description of the conditions that cause treacherous grips on families of addicts:
“…It is a complex interplay of isolation, inhumane treatment, inconsistency, and indoctrination in these families… in which members gradually relinquish their own identity and develop robotlike patterns of adaptive behaviors.”
These “adaptive behaviors” can persist even after substance addicts leaves home. As a result, such adaptive behaviors trigger more dysfunction within individuals and families of addicts as a whole.
Addiction gnaws at the foundation of love and trust within families of addicts. As a result, families living with addicts might face deteriorated relationships, economic difficulties, and emotional anguish.
Common families of addicts breakdowns include:
- Emotional, financial, and physical separation from the addict
- Removal of children from homes and placement in foster care, where they may experience more trauma
- Marital separation or divorce
- Avoidance of extended family and friends
- Legal issues such as bankruptcy or criminal charges
Supporting a loved one in the clutches of addiction wears on the body, mind, and soul of caregivers and families of addicts. Chronic worrying gives way to anxiety and depression, which are two common illnesses among families of addicts. A Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs article even states that a parent’s depression when living with an addict contributes to the physical, mental, and social neglect of the family’s children as well.
Breeding More Addiction
Addiction in one family member can sow seeds for addictive behavior among others. Children watching parents or siblings use alcohol or substances may see the activity as normal or “cool.” According to a 2017 paper in Anesthesia & Analgesia, the following factors increase the likelihood of addiction development:
- Family history of substance abuse
- Childhood or adult adversity or trauma
- Exposure to social environments encouraging substance misuse
Transmission by Genes
An addict’s illness may pass down to children through genes. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Studies in Alcohol and Drugs reports that genetic factors may contribute 40% to 60% toward a person’s development of addiction. Also, a 2021 review cites strong evidence that some genes influence the onset of addiction in general, while others influence the onset of specific types of addictions.
Why Should Families of Addicts Get Support?
It’s common for families of addicts to feel helpless about their struggling loved ones. Families of addicts often don’t know how to navigate through the chaos that stems from substance misuse. This is where support groups for families of addicts can be a beacon of hope and comfort.
Support groups for families of addicts provide a safe space to find validation, compassion, and reassurance. They give family members opportunities to grow in:
- Understanding: Support group participants share knowledge that can help you understand more about what your loved one is experiencing with addiction.
- Learning: Support groups for families of addicts can show you how to get past blaming or enabling your loved one who’s struggling with addiction.
- Communicating: You can learn effective methods of conveying love and respect to help heal the minds and hearts of the addict, your family, and yourself.
- Sharing: Relating to a family’s journey with addiction can inspire and strengthen someone else.
How Families of Addicts Can Help Create the Foundation for Recovery
Families of addicts can be great motivators for a person to seek recovery from SUD. A study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health confirms this. This study indicates that group psychological education and counseling correlate with reduced drug relapses.
As the closest individuals to the substance user, families of addicts are in an ideal position to support SAMHSA’s four dimensions of recovery:
- Health: making positive choices to overcome one’s disease and improve overall well-being
- Home: creating and maintaining a secure, stable place to live
- Purpose: finding independence and meaningful ways to contribute to society
- Community: cultivating relationships that foster love and hope
However, dealing with addiction can disrupt family dynamics. Relatives often feel lost when it comes to helping their struggling loved ones. Professional support can educate families of addicts in ways that can help them communicate, cope, and help their addicted loved ones.
When They Don’t Want Help
It may take a while before an addict can acknowledge his or her illness and ask for help. In the meantime, families of addicts may need guidance in recognizing and addressing the signs and symptoms of substance misuse with their loved ones. The sooner that families of addicts can identify the problem that is addiction, the sooner they can know what to expect from their loved ones’ addictions and how to deal with them.
Unfortunately, the stronghold of addiction may not let a family member go easily. Some people that suffer from addiction might not even want to be sober.
Other people that suffer from addiction may feel powerless and incapable of managing their conditions successfully. This only makes helping such addicts achieve recovery more difficult for families of addicts. That’s why support groups for families of addicts are necessary.
How Can Family Members of Addicts Receive Support?
We here at Grace Land Recovery offer support groups for families of addicts. In such family therapy groups, we focus on improving the emotional well-being of families of addicts as a whole. We also equip families of addicts with skills to support the individual seeking recovery. Our addiction treatment counselors and therapists here at Grace Land Recovery can help families explore addiction support options.
What are Different Types of Support Groups for Families of Addicts?
You can find a variety of in-person or virtual support groups for families of addicts. Either way support groups for families are designed to encourage and inform family members of addicts how to manage their loved ones’ addictions in ways that will help their addicted loved ones without hurting themselves.
Support groups for families of addicts don’t charge fees or dues. They do depend on voluntary contributions though.
You don’t have to register or attend support groups for families of addicts meetings regularly. People who do participate in such support group meetings regularly are often more likely to reap tremendous benefits, though. In fact, a 2017 study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that addiction support group attendees experienced:
- Increased understanding and ability to cope with addiction
- Increased ability to communicate and help addicts
- Reduced stress and self-blame
Give yourself time to find the best support groups for families of addicts.
Al-Anon and Alateen
Al-Anon and Alateen help families and friends of alcoholics cope with the effects of their loved ones’ alcohol use disorders. AI-Anon and Alateen participants include parents, spouses, partners, children, siblings, and friends of alcoholics.
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA)/Dysfunctional Families
ACA provides a non-judgemental space for adults who were raised with alcohol abuse along with other forms of abuse, trauma, or neglect. ACA is an independent 12-Step, 12 Tradition program.
Nar-Anon is one of the other 12-Step support groups for families of addicts. Nar-Anon/Narateen recovery programs are adapted from Narcotics Anonymous.
Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA)
CoDA, also a 12-Step program, is designed for people that are close to addicts who want to discover more about themselves and cultivate healthy relationships. CoDA members face and learn to modify their codependent patterns.
Receive Support Groups for Families of Addicts At Grace Land Recovery
Here at Grace Land Recovery, we understand the frustration and despair of watching a loved one struggle with addiction. Substance addiction is a sickness that requires professional help. Luckily, we here at Grace Land offer you the caring, informed support that families of addicts need to help their loved ones achieve recovery.
Our counselors are ready to answer any questions about our support groups for families of addicts 24/7 over the phone. If substance addiction is taking a toll on your family, attend support groups for families of addicts here at Grace Land today.