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As a psychiatric and psychological disease, addiction can change people’s lives entirely. Abusing drugs or alcohol profoundly affects their brain, making them completely different persons, barely recognisable even by their family members. Such people who battle addiction often say and do things that may cause emotional trauma to their loved ones.

While it’s true that addictions can ruin relationships, these relationships, particularly the ones in their immediate families, can serve as vital resources for recovery. Experts consider having a supportive family as one of the four fundamental pillars of addiction recovery and healing. Unfortunately, most people do not have enough skills to help someone with an addiction, even if they have good intentions. Furthermore, most families focus on supporting their loved ones with addiction; they often forget to care for themselves.

This article will highlight the common issues that the families of the addicts face and discuss different ways to support themselves as they help their loved ones recover.

Family members and other loved ones of addicts tend to experience their pain and stressors. Sometimes, this may seem like an addiction as they get consumed with their loved one’s well-being, use of substances, and whereabouts. Some family members of addicts may also undergo a withdrawal process, during which they search for stability and normalcy once their loved ones begin treatment.

Drug and alcohol addiction can indeed lead to chaos and widespread destruction in the family system, often requiring support for everyone. Some common issues that the friends and family members of people addicted to mood-altering substances include the following:

Siblings

As parents of an addicted person entirely focus on their one child and spend a significant amount of time and energy on their recovery, the other siblings may feel neglected. Some may even act out behaviourally to seek their parent’s attention. In short, the siblings of an addict struggle to seek the awareness and importance they had been getting previously.

Marriage

A partner with no addiction may feel lost and incredibly lonely. Sometimes, they may end up with anxiety and depression due to high stress levels within their marriage.

Children

Children of addicts often struggle with the long- and short-term effects of addiction. The unpredictability in behaviours and emotions of a parent addicted to alcohol or drugs can emotionally damage them. As a result, such children who grow up with addicted parents often have trauma and trust issues that impact their mental health and future relationships to a great extent.

Friends

You may offer your addicted friend a place to stay if there is nowhere else for them to go. However, you may notice how they are actively using drugs at your home or feel how some items have suddenly gone missing. Sometimes, the addicted friend can also make you realise that they are in a dangerous state of mind and health or feel your safety and privacy is in jeopardy. As a result, you may get stuck between wanting to help your friend and feeling like they are just using you to fulfil their addiction. Ultimately, you may break off all ties with them.

Wondering what support for families of addicts looks like? Following are some tips to ensure that these families keep taking care of themselves as they help their loved ones heal and recover from addiction:

Discuss and address the problem.

The first step involves addressing the problems by taking out time to talk to your loved one about their addiction. Remember not to approach them when they have already been drinking, and avoid being confrontational. Politely ask them to address their problem and notice if they are willing to admit that they have an issue. At the same time, do not ignore the problem that lies right in front of you. If your loved one is resisting the discussion to get help, keep trying to show them your concern and love while reiterating your desire for them to seek treatment. Even if they disagree, seek help for yourself through treatment.

Do not enable bad habits.

No matter how tempting it may seem, do not be an enabler of your loved one’s addiction. While you may feel ashamed of their actions, do not cover them up or lie to them, as this only supports their negative behaviours. If you want them to recognise the consequences of their actions, you must never be covering them up.

Do not buy drugs or alcohol for them, and do not let them convince you that it’s okay for them to celebrate with lots of alcohol.

Set boundaries.

While you may not always be able to stop an alcoholic from drinking, you can make it clear about what you will tolerate from their side by setting clear boundaries. Don’t forget to stand firm by these boundaries no matter how hard the situation gets.

Your boundaries can be as simple as refusing to cover up their actions or lying to them. It may also mean taking steps to protect your money and finances from the addicted person so that they do not affect your financial future. Lastly, you may also set boundaries to protect yourself, especially if your loved one is abusive. Let them know that the moment they try to violate these boundaries, you will immediately terminate the relationship and move away.

Read up on addiction.

This tip is crucial to initiate recovery for everyone involved in the process. For your peace of mind, you need to learn more about the absolute truths of addictions. So seek out information from trustworthy sources and understand more about the effects of alcohol on the addicted ones and their families.

Education is power, and the more you understand the realities of addiction, the better you can handle the recovery process of your loved ones without affecting yourself. Raising awareness in your knowledge bank can also help you overlook many stigmas typically linked to alcoholism and drug addiction.

Find professional support.

Living with someone battling addiction often leads to long-term stress and disturbs the family dynamic. While every experience is unique, finding other people going through similar circumstances can greatly help you overcome these struggles. You may consider joining a local support group in the neighbourhood or searching for families of addicts online to find people who understand the weight of addiction. Such people can also offer you non-judgmental and compassionate ears to listen to.

Seek therapy.

In addition to finding others with similar experiences, consider reaching out to professionals for help. The dynamics of dealing with a loved one’s addiction can overwhelm you, and in addition to worrying about them, you may also worry about other family members, such as children. In such circumstances, a family therapist can help you and others navigate the muddy waters of living with the addict. They can help you see the situation more objectively and advise you to cope with your struggles and real emotions, including frustration, distrust, anger, and guilt.

Manage your expectations.

If you have convinced your loved one to seek addiction help, you may already be feeling relieved and think everything will be okay from now on. However, remember that recovery is a process that never happens overnight. So try to manage your expectations about what the recovery process may look like for your loved one. It is not going to be a situation where you flip a switch, and everything gets better all of a sudden. Addiction treatment requires a lot of struggle and time and can come with its own ups and downs.

So be realistic as much as possible and try to understand the process. It is unfair to you or your loved one to burden them with unrealistic expectations. If you prepare yourself in this way, it will be easier for both parties to achieve recovery more smoothly.

Take good care of yourself.

Living with an addict can be stressful and overwhelming for anyone. You may have so much to focus on that you often neglect that you need self-care, too. However, remember that you cannot take care of anyone else if you are not mentally and physically in good health.

Hence, make sure to take time to eat healthily, get enough sleep, and exercise. Meanwhile, continue doing things that make you happy and bring you joy, such as watching a movie, painting, listening to music, or going out with a friend. Having a loved one battling addiction does not ban you from enjoying your life.

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