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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Addicts are not the only victims

Below is a guest post sent to me by Foundations Recovery Network. Lots of great graphics and relevant statistics. 

Addiction has the power to destroy many things in someone’s life. A passion, a future, a career…but most importantly, it can destroy a family. The family plays a critical role before someone’s journey down the road to addiction takes place, and is as important in recovery and aftercare support.

Loved ones can be a primary influence in the daily life of someone who abuses alcohol or drugs. These loved ones can range from co-workers, extended family members, parents, children, siblings and close friends. As of 2013 about 43% of U.S. adults - 76 million people - have been exposed to alcoholism in their family. These people have either grown up with an alcoholic family member, or have had a spouse or family member become addicted during adulthood. The most concerning part is that the younger generations are also being exposed more and more to this epidemic, specifically from their parents. It is said that an estimated 8 million children in the U.S. have at least one substance abusing parent. Of this number, parents are 2.7 times more likely to be abusive and 4.2 times more likely to neglect their children. The number of children being raised by their grandparents has also grown (to 4.9 million in 2010) primarily due to addiction and mental health disorders. 

Part of the nation’s effort in breaking the stigma associated with substance abuse is so that loved ones can have a constructive conversation with their addicted family member. This starts with being educated on the habits and signs of an addict. A lot is said on how loved ones can be enablers by giving the addict attention, money, and letting them continue their use simply to “protect” them. The loved one is scared to say something or doesn’t know how to help them. However, it’s also true that the addict himself can enable their loved ones; begging for money, help bailing them out of jail or getting to where they need to be, ignoring help from their loved one, and so on. We know it’s because of the substance that the addict is acting this way and not who they truly are. But this substance causes selfish, lying, stealing, threatening and manipulative behavior. The family member gets scared and confused and doesn’t know how to help the addict without offending them or starting an argument.

So, how can you spot alcoholism in a loved one? Here are some ways:
-The person is tempted and obligated to make alcohol a part of everyday life
-The person has an increased tolerance
-The person is unwilling to stop drinking
-The person has withdrawal symptoms when refraining to drink
-The person is ashamed of his drinking
-The person’s life suffers as a result of drinking
What to Do When It’s True:
                   -Hire a professional interventionist
                   -Plan an Intervention
                   -Conduct the Intervention
Steps of Treatment:
                   -Find a rehab that will meet all your family’s needs
                   -Family Therapy
                   -Aftercare Support

The process of working with an addicted loved one can be stressful and challenging. Attending family therapy and recovery sessions can be a key part in maintaining a healthy mind and body. It can help family and friends concentrate on what they have lost during the other’s addiction, and what problems they still seem to be recovering from even after the addict gets help. This type of recovery and treatment may be different depending on the ages and relationships in question. Family therapy is important because it helps the group as a whole get back to their own identity instead of putting all the effort they have into taking care of the addict.

The addict is ultimately responsible for their own recovery, but it’s also important for the loved one to be supportive along the journey. If the addict respects and supports the loved one, and can even participate in their recovery as well, the whole family unit can find healing.

Family therapy and recovery will build strength and effective communication within each individual and their relationship with each other. Understanding of the loved one’s addiction and recovery will develop as well. This will help prevent generations of addiction to continue in your family, and help to be open with each other about problems or events that may lead up to a potential addiction or relapse.

There are 23 million people struggling with addiction and mental health illnesses. Only 3 million are seeking help. Addiction is a disease, and it effects everyone around them. Skywood’s mission is to reach out to the other 20 million who are not seeking help. Break the stigma, and reach out for help. We are just a phone call away.

Private & Confidential Line: (877) 345-3395



afterthefire1964 said...

Indeed, this is so. Though my alcoholic proved to not be immortal and did die almost 5 years ago, my young sons (now teenagers) continue to work with an excellent therapist and have had lingering mental effects from living with "drunk daddy". One silver cloud: they have learned early on that there is no shame in "seeking help" and using therapists and other mental health professionals to assist them with coping. This is so important to know - if only my husband had "known" this - maybe he would not have "self medicated" with alcohol. Peace and comfort to all in the new year.

Terry N Steve said...

there are always good and bad moments in life , thankyou for writing for those who have been around alcoholic people ,. everybosy gives tips to alcoholics to get sober . but very few people think about those who suffer the consequences around that alcoholic .
your post made me feel so good , thank you .

adri said...

am.. I allowed to say, I don't think we should care so much about relapsing addicts?

I know this sounds cruel, and I am aware that it is a disease, but I think we should remind ourselves it is also a choice. Just like we, the healthy people, chose to not drink or abuse other addictive substances, these people chose to do so.

I think, personally, that while there may not be a point of no return, there indeed must be imposed a point of no forgiveness. when an adict starts causing so much damage, he is literally causing more damage than it's worth. is the small probability of getting your spouse sobered up really worth the damage that will be done to your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces?

I have read so much of this blog and it's comments by now and I am appaled at how many spouses, parents, even children of raving alcoholics feel they have somehow failed their dying adict.am I alone in my perception that my alcoholic father - and other alcoholics- have in fact failed us, their families and their loved ones and their colleagues and their bosses?

How is it, in all these musings and thoughts, never THEIR fault? Oh it's the alcohol. maybe it's me. maybe it's their parents. it's the crisis. it's the job. but don't we all have hardships in life? and after all, don't we all drink alcohol occasionally and know how relaxing getting drunk can be? couldn't we all just make this choice, get pissed right by our significant alcoholic and say "fuck it, why should I care, let some other idiot take care of me - surely someone will be stupid enough to do it?"

I'm writing this to tell you: don't blame yourselves. ever. unless you tied them up in a cellar and poured alcoholic beverages down their throats, it's NOT your fault. even if you weren't the best company, this person STILL had a choice to up and leave and seek a better life somewhere else.

I personally keep wondering, if people were less understanding and less caring to alcoholics, would more of them pull through? would they come to once they found themselves tossed out and with nobody to wait on them hand and foot in earlier stages of alcoholism? had my mother divorced and thrown my father in the street 20 years ago, would he now be a healthy man? are, by being kind and understanding, we only helping them keep drinking?

anyway: I hope who ever comes across this blog will understand that these people will NOT get better, and they will not because they CHOOSE not to. it's not the alcohol, it's not the childhood, it's not the life issues. it's THEM. what YOU get to choose, is how much damage you'll let them do.

me personally, I've been through rehab and the whole shebang with my father - once. I am NOT doing it again. I've been through dying and everything you have to do to take care of a dying person with my grandparents, and it was heartbreaking, exhausting and awful to go through. however they were wonderful human beings who never did anything but good to me. I simply can Not allow myself to give equally to the man who at best ignored, and at worst beat and berated me all my life. I fricking WON'T, if only because it wouldn't be fair.

it's NOT your fault. the adict failed YOU.