Addiction in its broadest sense is an illness that affects the way the brain works. Those affected may act in a way that they would never have done before addiction took hold. However, addiction not only affects the individual; it also affects everyone around them, with family members particularly vulnerable.
Even in the early stages of addiction, family relationships will be affected and, when the problem becomes serious and drug taking or drinking begins to take over, family life will be negatively affected. The way that each family member reacts will depend on his or her own ability to deal with such a situation. You may find that some family members blame themselves for your illness while others deny the problem exists. There are many different ways that your addiction can affect your family, so it is vital that you get help as soon as possible.
Addiction causes those affected to lose control of their lives as their problem worsens. Ironically, while they lose control of their lives, their addiction begins to control the lives of those around them. Entire families are affected by addiction, and everyone is susceptible to long-term psychological damage.
Family members often become co-dependent, and their lives will ultimately revolve around the addict. Their behaviour changes as they try to cope with the stresses of dealing with an addicted loved one.
How Co-dependency Affects Family Members
When family members become co-dependent, they may begin covering up and lying for their addicted loved one. Family members may initially try to fix the problem, as this is a natural reaction. Those with little or no experience of addiction often believe that it is an easy problem to fix. They think that the problems will just go away if their loved one stops taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. It is not as simple as just stopping when you have an addiction.
When the family members realise that the problem is not going to go away that easily, they will begin to cover up for the affected individual to help him or her. Covering up also helps co-dependents hide their embarrassment or shame about the situation. Addiction is not something that many people want to confess to because of the continued stigma surrounding it. The devastating thing about covering up for addicts is that while this is going on the addict can continue with his or her behaviour, and at the same time the problem is just getting worse.
Co-dependents also have a habit of rationalising the behaviour of their addicted loved ones. They will give them excuses for behaving the way they do. They also avoid situations that could result in embarrassing behaviour by this person. For example, children will stop inviting friends over after school in case their addicted parent is under the influence.
Family members often blame themselves for their loved one’s behaviour. They search for reasons as to why this individual became addicted and often believe they have failed this person by not doing enough to help them or to stop them from developing this illness.
Family members can also become obsessed with their addicted loved one and will try to control every aspect of his or her life in a bid to resolve the situation. This is a destructive path to go down for all involved and it is important that family members encourage the person to get professional help instead.
We’re Here to Help
If you or someone you love is suffering because of addiction, get help now. Here at Rehab Helper, we can provide you with information, advice and support on all types of addiction. We offer comprehensive assessments and referrals to ensure that you or your loved one gets the help needed. Call today for more information.