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Addiction in the family can be a tough thing to talk about. In some cases, families refuse to even acknowledge the problem is happening. This is a major roadblock in the path of a loved one who may be trying to get help for his or her substance abuse problem, especially if toxic relationships at home have contributed to the problem.
In fact, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence emphasized in a recent article that both family genetics and environmental factors play an equal role in determining how likely a person is to become an addict. Many family members don’t want to feel like they have anything to do with the addiction problem. Yet, this attitude just makes it harder for the whole family to heal.
This article outlines why positive family participation is a critical part of the recovery process. By understanding the family’s role in supporting (or hindering) an intervention, family members can take a proactive approach toward guiding a struggling parent, spouse, child or sibling into substance abuse treatment.
Addiction Is a Family Matter
When it comes to helping a loved one to overcome addiction, every member of the family has a role to play. Understand that family roles in interventions are different for each person.
Some must learn to say “no” to their child for the first time. Others must acknowledge how toxic or unresolved feelings are making it difficult to be a supportive spouse or sibling. In many cases, family members must learn whole new communication strategies.
Only when each family member acknowledges their own responsibility in helping address an addiction problem will the whole family be able to come together and find a long-lasting solution.
Helping vs. Enabling
The blurry line between supporting and enabling is one of the major reasons that it is so important for each family member to recognize that they must play an intentional role in the recovery process.
Supporting a loved one means encouraging him or her to seek treatment by setting firm boundaries. Enabling, on the other hand, refers to any actions a family member takes that minimizes the consequences of a loved one’s addiction.
Enabling may come in the form of:
- Monetary gifts
- Covering for the loved one when he or she is high or hung over and has to miss work
- Lying to other family members about the addict’s behavior
Unfortunately, those struggling with substance abuse can quickly become master manipulators. Addicts have huge egos, after all, and inherently think of their needs first. Family members may think they are helping a loved one to get off drugs, but they are actually making it easier for the individual to avoid going to rehab.
Planning an Addiction Intervention
Seeing through the lies of a loved one who is twisted by drug abuse can be challenging. Furthermore, those addicted to drugs and alcohol are considerably more cautious if they suspect that the family is planning on getting them into treatment. As far as scheduling and executing an intervention for substance abuse, it’s very important to get it right the first time.
Time is short, however. The longer a family waits to plan and execute an intervention, the more likely their addicted loved one gets arrested, experiences serious bodily harm or overdoses on his or her substance of choice.
By checking their egos and working with a professional, families can move toward identifying codependent behaviors. Doing so will improve their odds of getting their loved one the help they desperately need.
Unchecked Egos Hinder Success
One of the most important jobs that an experienced intervention professional has is to help the family understand not only their roles in recovery, but also the ego issue that holds them back from playing their part.
It is nearly impossible for family members to identify these emotional roadblocks and assign appropriate roles on their own. Personal attachments and deep emotions make it extremely difficult to approach a loved one’s addiction from an objective viewpoint. That’s why enlisting the aid of a third-party professional, such as an interventionist, is so crucial.
Exploring Professional Intervention Help
Making decisions about a loved one’s recovery from substance abuse can be tough. It helps to have as many resources available as possible so you can make an informed choice. That’s why we’ve made our eBook, “Ego & Addiction: Why Families Enable Addicts and Derail Interventions,” available to you for free.
We hope putting this information in your hands will help you get your loved one into treatment as quickly as possible. Please reach out to us if you have more questions or would like to work with a professional interventionist.