Help for the Family

Addiction is a family condition that can bring some of the family to breaking point. Addiction can impact the stability of the home, the family’s mental health, physical health, finances, and overall family dynamics.

3 important things to remember at all times are:
We didn’t cause it – it is not our fault that the other person drinks/uses, it is their private battle
We can’t control it – we have no power over the other person’s desire to drink/use
We can’t cure it – it is a condition that cannot be cured through any known medical remedies

Living with a substance use disorder can put family members under unusual stress. Normal routines are constantly being interrupted by unexpected or even frightening kinds of experiences that are part of living with alcohol and other drug use. What is being said often doesn’t match up with what family members sense, feel beneath the surface or see right in front of their eyes. The alcohol or other drug user as well as family members may bend, manipulate and deny reality in their attempt to maintain a family order. The entire system becomes absorbed by a problem that is slowly spinning out of control. Little things become big and big things get minimized as pain is denied and slips away.

WITHOUT HELP, SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS CAN  TOTALLY DISRUPT FAMILY LIFE AND CAUSE HARMFUL EFFECTS THAT CAN LAST A LIFETIME.

Support groups such as Alanon and Families Anonymous are available for the friends and family of people suffering from substance use disorders (alcohol and drugs, respectively). Individual therapy for each family member, not just the person, is important for the mental health of both the person with the substance use disorder, spouse or partner and children. Also a family meeting with a therapist can help improve communication among family members, rebalance the family dynamic and give family members a safe environment to express their anger, fear and other concerns.
If you’re worried about your own, a friend or family member’s substance use disorder, it’s important to know that help is available. Helping a loved one struggling with ANY TYPE of drug dependence, remember alcohol is a drug, can be heartbreakingly painful, but with help, it can be remarkably rewarding. At times, it can seem so  overwhelming that it would be easier to ignore it, pretend that nothing is wrong and hope it just goes away. But in the long run, denying it or minimising it, will be more damaging to you, other family members, and
the person you are concerned about.

DONʼT WAIT, ACT NOW.

Substance use disorders are complex problems, with many related issues. And, although there is no magic formula to help someone stop his or her drinking or drug use, here are some important suggestions:

Learn all you can about substance use disorders. Utilise the links and resources we have provided.

Speak Up and Offer Your Support
Talk to the person about your concerns, and offer your help and support, including your willingness to go with them to get help. Like other chronic diseases, the earlier addiction is treated, the better.

Express Love and Concern
Don’t wait for your loved one to “hit rock bottom.” You may be met with excuses, denial or anger, but be prepared to respond with specific examples of behavior that has you worried.

Donʼt Expect the Person to Stop Without Help
No doubt, you have heard it all before — promises to cut down, to stop, but it doesnʼt work. Treatment, support, and new coping skills are needed to overcome addiction to alcohol and drugs.

Support Recovery as an Ongoing Process
Once your friend or family member is receiving treatment, or going to meetings, remain involved. While maintaining your own commitment to getting help for yourself, continue to support their participation in ongoing care, meetings and recovery support groups. Continue to show that you are concerned about their successful long-term recovery.

BEHAVE EXACTLY AS YOU WOULD IF YOUR LOVED ONE HAD A SERIOUS ILLNESS. THEY DO.

Substance use disorders destroys families as much as they destroy individuals. Living with a person with a substance use disorder is both heartbreaking and exhausting. Family members are torn between how to help the person and how to avoid being sucked into their self destructive world.

Don’t Cover Up, lie or make excuses for us and our behavior.

Don’t Assume Their Responsibilities:

Taking over our responsibilities protects us from the consequences of our behavior.

Don’t Argue When Using:

Arguing with the person when they are using alcohol or other drugs is not helpful; at that point they can’t have a rational conversation.
Don’t Feel Guilty or responsible for our behavior, it’s not your fault.

Don’t Join them:

Don’t try to keep up with us by drinking or using yourself.

THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR YOURSELF

  • Take care of yourself. Living with a person with a substance use disorder is exhausting. You also need time to recover.
  • Avoid self-blame. You can’t control another person’s decisions, and you can’t force them to change.
  • Do not work harder than the person you’re trying to help. The best approach is to not do things for the person, but instead to be an example of balance and self-care.
  • Being a caretaker is not good for you or the person with a substance use disorder . Understand that there is only so much you can do to change another person.
  • Ask for help. Talk to a professional. Go to a support group such as Al-Anon or families Anonymous.
  • Do not argue or try to discuss things with us when we are under the influence. It won’t get you anywhere.

You can’t stop drinking or
using for another person.

Funded by an educational grant from Indivior