Drug Addiction & the Family
While some of the effects of drug abuse on the family are obvious, others are subtle and hard to pinpoint. Fortunately, there are strategies that allow you to help yourself and your family endure the challenges of the treatment process.
Find various strategies below to help ease the effects of drug abuse on the family.
Seek Professional Help for Yourself
Drug addiction and the family don’t normally go together. The most obvious way this manifests is in a parent feeling shame or guilt over a child’s addiction. Often, this can turn to anger and frustration.
Many parents beat themselves up with statements like, “I should have done this…” or “I was a bad parent.” Therapy is a safe place to express these overwhelming emotions. Therapy is a safe place to begin healing the wounds drug addiction has placed on the family.
Your therapist will engage you about how you’re feeling. They’ll help you find healthy ways to cope with negative and conflicted emotions. When you’re emotionally healthy, you’ll better be able to support your child, as well as the rest of your family, through the recovery process.
Make Time for Yourself
Addiction is an all-consuming disease for addicts as well as their families. While it’s natural to feel stress when your child is in treatment, it’s not healthy to ignore your needs. Schedule time to indulge in activities that nurture your soul. For example, take a hike, take a vacation, or spend time working on a project. These simple steps help more than you may think.
Don’t Ignore Your Marriage
Another major byproduct of drug addiction and the family is a tense relationship between you and your partner. Perhaps you’re focusing so much on your child’s addiction that you neglect your romantic relationship. Reconnecting with your significant other can be as simple as setting a date night.
However, if you’re unable to resolve conflicts, it’s worthwhile to seek couple’s therapy. A skilled therapist will help identify the effects of drug abuse on your family, as well as problems in your relationship. They’ll then be able to help you both find effective, healthy ways to work through them.
Spend Time with Your Other Children
It’s easy for a family to get so wrapped up in one child’s addiction that other children are neglected. Commit to spending quality time with your other children. Allow each child to choose an activity they enjoy, whether it’s going to a favorite restaurant or spending time at a park.
Connect with your children during the course of normal days as well, doing simple things like walking the dog, or packing lunch together.
Addiction often causes families to withdraw from the world. While isolating from others may feel safer, it’s actually detrimental. Rebuild and strengthen your friendships by taking part in social activities like taking a class, going to religious services, or volunteering. By reconnecting with your community, you’re giving your family a sense of belonging that’s missing during a child’s addiction.
Your child can have a successful, lasting recovery, but they’ll need your love, support, and guidance. It may feel like a daunting task, and at times even a futile one. Remember though, you’re not alone! There are millions of families out there going through exactly what you are!
Drug Addiction and the Family
Addiction can have a devastating, long-term impact on your child’s life. That’s why it’s essential to do everything possible to help your child overcome it. Therapy facilitates recovery, but the support and guidance of family are just as important. In fact, they can be some of the most critical factors in your child’s long-term success.
So, what can you do to help your child in treatment? What can you do to ease the effects of drug abuse on the family? Find out below.
Learn about Addiction
Substance abuse is an incredibly broad category. It includes alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs, behaviors, environments, and people. Each substance has its own impact on your child’s physical and mental health.
Help your child by educating yourself about their specific addiction. In turn, you’ll understand more about the entire recovery process. You’ll be prepared for the weeks, months, and years ahead.
It can be overwhelming and scary to have a child in rehab. Don’t let this anxiety prevent you from being the best possible advocate for your child. Never hesitate to ask questions about the treatment process. If you’re concerned about a particular course of treatment, get a second opinion.
Don’t allow your child to be in charge. Addicts can be incredibly manipulative. Your child may insist that they’ve learned their lesson. If you don’t do what they want, they may vow to never speak to you again. Expect all sorts of tactics, including crying, threats, silence, and begging. Listen to your child, but then set a firm boundary.
Be Active in Your Child’s Therapy
Treatment at Lighthouse includes family therapy. This is as much to assess the effects of drug abuse on the family, as it is to begin to heal the family from active addiction.
Make it a top priority to participate in your child’s recovery by attending all phone sessions, even if you need to set aside other commitments to do so. During therapy, you’ll learn how to work with, rather than against, your child. This is an invaluable resource for successful recovery.
Have a Plan for Discharge
Addiction is a chronic disease and rehab is just the first step in the recovery process. Work closely with the treatment center to create a plan for your child’s integration into the world.
Set clear rules before discharge. Rules can include strict curfews, regularly scheduled chores, expectations regarding school, expectations regarding work, and expectations regarding behavior. Outline the consequences for violations and, more importantly, follow through with enforcing these consequences. Make sure your spouse or partner is aware of, and willing to enforce, these rules.
Be Alert for Signs of Cross-Addiction
Your child is recovering from addiction to a particular substance, heroin for example. However, they’re also vulnerable to other addictions. Know the signs and symptoms of addiction to other substances. Don’t store prescription drugs, including painkillers and ADHD medications, in easily accessible places. Always dispose of extra pills properly after you no longer need them.
Recovering from addiction is a long-term process. Your child will go through different stages along the way. Sometimes they’ll be positive, other times they may act depressed or pessimistic. This is one hundred percent normal. Remember, recovery lasts a lifetime!
Talk with your child’s therapists to learn more about drug addiction and the family