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Resources for Families and Loved Ones

If you love someone who has struggled with an addiction, you know just how far-reaching the effects can be. The devastation that comes with a drug or alcohol addiction extends out to every person who cares about the individual who is suffering. In fact, addiction is often referred to as a “family disease” because it profoundly impacts the whole circle of people who love the individual.

A change to one person’s behavior in the family has a major impact on every member of the family circle. An article in the journal Social Work in Public Health likens the phenomenon to a mobile with several hanging components. When one hanging part moves, the others are all affected in different ways and each adjusts to maintain the equilibrium.1

It is not only the immediate family of the addicted person who is impacted, however, and there is no rigid definition of “family.” Generally, you could view the person’s closest emotional ties as their family.2 It doesn’t matter whether you’re the mother, the grandmother, the cousin or the best friend—you can still be severely affected by the addiction of someone you love; however, it’s those same emotional ties that put you in a position to help your loved one make a positive change.

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You can do this in several ways:

  • Encouraging them to accept help
  • Assisting them with enrolling in a treatment program
  • Providing support without enabling

The family resource guides provided here will help you gather general information about addiction, getting a loved one into treatment, working through issues like payment and insurance, getting help for yourself, and more.

We are here to help you every step of the way. You can call to speak to our Admissions Navigators any time, day or night at 702-848-6223 to discuss the best ways to help your loved one.

As you attempt to navigate through the difficult process of helping a loved one struggling with a substance use disorder, remember the 7 Cs:3

  • You didn’t Cause it
  • You can’t Cure it
  • You can’t Control it
  • You can Care for yourself by:
    • Communicating your feelings
    • Making healthy Choices
    • Celebrating yourself

And keep in mind that your mental and physical health is important too. It’s all too easy to get caught up in caring for your loved one and managing the consequences of their substance use to the detriment of your own well-being. Addiction impacts an individual, but the individual is part of a larger family system, and the health of the entire system is vital to long-term recovery from addiction.4 Don’t hesitate to reach out for help from recovery groups such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.

Having support from others who have gone through what you’re going through can be incredibly healing and can help you recognize that, while you cannot control your loved one, you can take control of your own life and, in so doing, be able to help the people you love.5 Participating in family therapy can also go a long way in helping to create positive, sustainable change for both you and your loved one.

References:

  1. Lander, L., Howsare, J., & Byrne, M. (2013). The impact of substance use disorders on families and children: from theory to practice. Social work in public health28(3-4), 194–205. doi:10.1080/19371918.2013.759005
  2. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2004. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 39.) Chapter 1 Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy.
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (n.d.). Remember the 7 Cs.
  4. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2004. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 39.) Chapter 1 Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy.
  5. Nar-Anon. (n.d.). What’s Nar-Anon?
About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have... Read More