Addiction is a Family Affair
Addiction is a Family Affair
Addiction does not discriminate. Addiction does not negotiate. Addiction takes hostages. People in active
addiction use substances (alcohol, prescription drugs, street drugs or any substance that alters reality) or engage in behaviors (gambling, sex, shopping, work, exercise etc…) that have become more important to them than…just about anything or anyone. Addicts certainly suffer, but so do the people who care about them, especially family members.
Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. (American Society of Addiction Medicine )
Or, more simply, Wikipedia defines addiction as a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences.
Sometimes the picture of an “addict” is someone slouched against a concrete wall in an alley, with dirty, torn clothes and a dazed look on their face. But an addict is also the well-dressed CEO, a wealthy businessperson who drinks hard liquor every single night to “help them get to sleep.” Or the busy mother who is re-filling her wine cup when no one is looking. Or the “accidental addict” who is prescribed medications by a doctor and gets hooked.
Addiction and Family
Addiction is never about just the addict. The impact of addiction on family members is huge. The toll of unsuccessfully trying to help, and not knowing what to do, of being hurt and sometimes hurting back, usually for years on end – is a heavy toll and in truth, a trauma – for mothers, fathers, spouses, children, sisters and brothers and so on. When someone in addiction goes into treatment and finds the path to recovery, it is not only their own recovery that matters; their family members must also recover right alongside them.
Family Program in Rehab
That’s why anyone seeking an addictions treatment program should makes sure it includes education and therapy for the family. At our own treatment centre in Fort Steele, BC, Canada, our Family Intensive Program is a 4 day event that runs every 6 weeks and is included in all of our clients’ treatment. It helps our clients’ loved ones discover how they have been affected by addiction and how to start their own path of recovery. Families learn what addiction is and isn’t, and how to best support themselves and their loved one. They find comfort in being with others who truly “get it.” They meet with counsellors to process what they have learned and what it means for their family going forward.
A family program is so important. Family members have experienced their own trauma; they need and deserve their own healing. And, when the whole family is able to understand addiction and its impact on their loved one and themselves, then all can begin to heal, and the odds of a successful recovery are much greater – for everyone