How Family Can Foster Substance Abuse… and Support Recovery
Understanding and addressing addiction is a complex process, made even more challenging when we begin to look at the significant role that family dynamics play in the development and recovery of substance use disorders. At times, often without even realizing it, families can pave the way for substance abuse through established patterns of behavior.
Conversely, with the right dedication and education, these same intimate relationships are capable of fostering a nurturing environment essential for one’s recovery journey toward sobriety.
Keep reading to delve deeper into family roles in addiction, understand how our closest bonds might unintentionally encourage addictive behaviors but also harness the key to recovery, and learn how Catalina Behavioral Health can help you or your family unit recover from an addictive household with our support!
Dysfunctional Family Dynamics and How They Contribute To Drug and Alcohol Addiction
When someone is struggling with addiction, it is not just their personal battle; it is a battle for the entire family. The disease of addiction can manifest in many ways, from enabling behaviors to destructive communication patterns.
As a result, each family member’s actions and reactions to the situation can contribute to the cycle of addiction for the rest of the family.
Enabling Behaviors as Part of the Family Roles in Addiction
One of the first ways family members can unknowingly foster substance abuse is by enabling addiction. Enabling behaviors often stem from a desire to help the addicted loved one, but in reality, these actions may be contributing to the problem. Common enabling behaviors can include:
- Covering up or making excuses for the addicted person’s actions
- Financially supporting the addicted person, allowing them to continue their substance abuse
- Taking on the addicted person’s responsibilities, such as caring for their children or managing their finances while allowing them to still use drugs or alcohol
When you inadvertently portray dependent behaviors, you are supporting the addiction and may be preventing your loved one from experiencing the consequences of the addict’s behavior, which is essential for them to acknowledge the problem and seek help.
What are the Core Family Roles?
When addiction is present in a family, it is common for family members to adopt specific roles in response to the situation. These roles are often unhealthy and can further perpetuate addiction within the family. Some common family roles include:
- The Enabler: This family role may try to protect the addicted person by making excuses or covering up for their behaviors.
- The Hero: This individual often takes on excessive responsibility, becoming the “perfect” family member in an attempt to compensate for the chaos caused by the addiction.
- The Scapegoat: This family member may act out, which will draw attention away from the addicted person and place the focus on their own negative behaviors.
- The Lost Child Role: This individual tends to withdraw from the family, often feeling invisible and hiding their negative emotions.
These roles develop as a coping mechanism within the family dynamic. By recognizing and addressing these roles, your family can work together to break the cycle of addiction.
The Importance of Recognizing the Lost Child Role
You might wonder why understanding the lost child’s role is necessary. The truth is that addressing this role is crucial for several reasons:
- Mental health consequences: Lost children typically experience feelings of isolation and loneliness as they retreat from their family environment. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
- Developmental issues: As lost children grow up without proper emotional support, they may struggle to form healthy relationships and may experience problems with self-esteem and identity formation.
- Continuing the cycle: If the lost child does not address their feelings and experiences, they may carry their emotional baggage into adulthood, potentially leading to their own struggles with addiction or other maladaptive behaviors.
Recognizing the lost child’s role in a family can help you better understand the family dynamic and identify areas where intervention may be necessary, whether for the youngest child or the eldest child struggling.
How Family Members Can Recognize the Signs of a Substance Use Disorder
Recognition of an active substance use disorder within a family member is the first step toward facilitating help and recovery. Here are some key signs you should look out for:
Physical Changes: Drastic fluctuations in weight, bloodshot or glazed eyes, unexplained injuries, irregular sleeping patterns, or sudden neglect in personal grooming can signal potential problems.
Behavioral Shifts: You might notice unusual mood swings accompanied by aggressive behavior or secrecy about their activities. There also could be changes in social groups and a lack of interest in hobbies.
Financial Struggles: A sudden shortage of money without any significant change in income might indicate funds being redirected towards sustaining their addiction.
Legal Troubles: Regular run-ins with law enforcement can be an indicator of ongoing addiction issues. Be particularly alert if their legal problems stem from actions like driving under the influence or possession of controlled substances. In some cases, someone can be forced into rehab in Arizona should their actions pose a risk to themselves or others.
Health Problems: Chronic, unexplained health concerns such as frequent flu-like symptoms, infections, or liver disease might suggest substance abuse disorders.
What To Do If You Have a Family Member Struggling with Addiction
Discovering a loved one struggling with drug or alcohol addiction can be distressing, but it’s important to approach the situation with patience and understanding.
Here are some suggestions for navigating through these challenging conditions:
Educate Yourself and Your Entire Family
Understand substance use disorders as comprehensively as possible including its impacts and appropriate treatments. As you become informed about what you’re dealing with, efforts taken to help will undoubtedly have greater effectiveness.
Open Communication and Active Listening
It’s important to foster open communication within the family, allowing everyone involved to express their concerns, thoughts, and feelings. Encourage your loved one suffering from addiction to share their struggles and listen to their experiences without judgment.
Active listening means giving your full attention and empathizing with the speaker, ensuring they feel heard and validated. It’s essential to create a safe and supportive environment that promotes trust and understanding among family members.
Encourage Professional Treatment for the Addicted Family Member
When you have a family member suffering from addiction, it’s crucial to encourage them to seek professional treatment. Addiction is a complex issue that often requires medical and psychological interventions to overcome.
Meeting with an addiction specialist or a mental health professional can help the individual understand their addiction and explore treatment options best suited to their needs. With your support and encouragement, they will likely feel more comfortable taking that crucial step toward recovery.
Offer Emotional Support
Emotional support is invaluable for the person suffering from addiction, as well as for the other family members. Recognize that your loved one may be facing several emotional challenges as they grapple with addiction and be there to comfort and reassure them.
Simple gestures like offering to attend treatment sessions or support group meetings, or spending quality time together, can go a long way. Remember to take care of your own emotional well-being, as caring for someone with an addiction can be stressful.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries when living with or supporting a person fighting addiction is vital. Boundaries act as guidelines for acceptable behaviors, treatment, and interactions that help maintain your self-respect while also guiding the addict’s behavior.
Ultimately, boundaries protect you from being overwhelmed by stress or experiencing burnout, which can happen when dealing with an addicted family member.
Avoid Blame and Judgment
Avoid pointing fingers or assuming blame, as this only adds to the emotional burden of someone dealing with substance abuse issues. Negative emotions could also push them further into their addictive behaviors.
Take Care of Yourself and Learn Coping Strategies
While your focus might be on your struggling family member, do not neglect your well-being. Dealing with a loved one with addiction can be stressful and emotionally draining. To support them effectively, you must take care of yourself. Prioritize self-care, such as engaging in hobbies, eating well, exercising, and getting adequate sleep.
Seek professional help for yourself if needed, such as therapy or support groups specifically designed for families of people with addiction. At Catalina, our rehab family program fills this vital role and helps rebuild such connections for clients who desire them.
Learning coping strategies can also help you manage the stress and emotions that come with this situation. Common coping strategies include deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, and journaling. Find what works for you and implement these practices into your daily routine.
Overall, learning how to provide emotional support to an addicted family member can be difficult, but it could end up saving their life.
A Family Disease: Treatment for Families Dealing With Active Addiction
There’s no question that addiction affects the entire family and becomes the family’s problem, so it’s important to figure out what treatment is best for the person dependent on substances as well as their whole family. For the substance user and their whole family, some of the most common and effective treatments include:
Inpatient Treatment: Considered by many experts as the most effective method for addiction, residential treatment involves staying at a rehab facility 24 hours per day over weeks or months. Comprehensive support and medical supervision guarantee the client’s safety while educated and compassionate mental health professionals help them break free from substance dependency.
Family Therapy: This form of therapy involves all family members. It helps everyone understand the addiction and how their own behaviors might have unintentionally contributed to it. The goal is to make positive changes within the family dynamic that aid recovery for the loved one struggling with substance abuse.
Outpatient Treatment: From our PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program) to our IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) outpatient services at Catalina offer a flexible treatment program that allows the client to attend regular therapy sessions and participate in recovery programs while continuing with their everyday life. Typically, one can stay at home, maintain work commitments, and still receive the help needed during this time.
Individual Therapy: This is a one-on-one treatment option with a therapist. It’s an opportunity for the client to talk openly about their addiction, identify triggers, and learn new coping mechanisms in private sessions tailored specifically to meet their needs.
It is also beneficial for other family members of the alcoholic family to participate in their own individual therapy sessions, as dealing with a loved one’s addiction can be emotionally taxing. Therapy provides them with a private, supportive space where they can express their concerns, fears, and frustrations without judgment or fear of causing further conflict in the family.
12 Step Programs and SMART Meetings: Twelve-step meetings such as those offered by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) play a substantial role in recovery from addiction. These structured programs offer a roadmap towards sobriety with clearly defined steps guiding participants through a process of admitting their issues, seeking help, making amends, and striving to maintain long-term recovery.
Twelve-step meetings are not just for the addicted person. Al-Anon meetings are immensely beneficial for family members of the addicted household. They provide a supportive environment where you can share experiences, learn about the complexities of addiction, and explore coping strategies. They can provide great family resources for dealing with the addict’s behaviors and the negative effects of a substance use disorder.
For those that find a 12-step approach does not work for them, Catalina also fully supports SMART Recovery attendance and meetings for our clients.
Intervention: If your loved one needs help but they aren’t willing to go to treatment, a last resort may be to stage an intervention. An intervention is a carefully planned process facilitated by an experienced professional, designed to encourage an addicted individual to seek help for their substance abuse problem. It’s not a random or spontaneous event but rather involves precise orchestration and execution.
During the intervention, you along with other loved ones present your concerns about the person’s addiction in a non-judgmental and compassionate way. You express how their behavior has affected you personally as well as others involved – all of it acting toward convincing them to accept treatment.
You might also outline specific consequences that will ensue if they continue avoiding treatment such as not spending time with them or not giving them money.
The idea isn’t to blame addicts but rather to show love and concern while encouraging them to take the necessary steps to recover.
A Firm Footing for Developing Health Family Roles
The road to recovery for a loved one combating addiction can be challenging and steep. It’s essential that as a supportive individual in their life, you equip yourself with the right tools and knowledge to best assist them on this path. We’re here to help.
Catalina Behavioral Health can serve as a beacon of hope in your loved one’s recovery journey. We offer various treatment programs tailored to the unique needs and specifications of each individual suffering from addiction issues.
One primary aspect is our detoxification services, where your loved one will safely withdraw from the substance under close medical supervision. It ensures that the withdrawal phase is safe and controlled.
We also offer comprehensive therapy and counseling sessions for both individuals with the addiction as well as family members involved, aimed at addressing emotional challenges in the family unit.
Reach Out to Get a Healthy Family Role in Recovery at Catalina
Above all else, we promise personalized care from experienced and compassionate mental health professionals. We want to help you and your loved one begin the path to long-term recovery. Contact us today with any questions.
We understand how a family operates with addiction involved and the unhealthy behaviors we can adopt in becoming adults and repeating (or trying to escape) from our family’s problems.
Yet Catalina also understands that recovery is possible, and we have seen clients overcome very difficult childhood trauma and get through their dysfunctional family roles in addiction as adult children. The same clients who once despaired of finding lasting recovery and a sense of belonging now have both.
The same success can be a part of your or your loved one’s story, and our compassionate team is ready and waiting to help. Reach out today, all calls are completely confidential, so why not pick up the phone to get options for support now?!