Overcoming drug addiction within the family
Sober Tales Jun 01, 2015
Overcoming drug addiction within the family

Familial peer pressure isn’t always the bee’s knees. Throw in drug addiction and that will set sober family members buzzing when discussing the disruptions drug abuse brings to daily life. Money best spent on food, housing and family outings goes toward harmful habits. Children could lose their college funds. Parents can throw away their cars, houses and even their jobs. The sober members of the family may feel at a loss for the many forgone opportunities and dreams.

Drug addiction and alcoholism can indeed run in families but this doesn’t mean every family member is doomed to the doldrums of drug abuse. It can take work, but resisting the path down this rabbit hole will bring rewards. Do this by remembering these tips, as recommended by J. Wesley Boyd, M.D.:

  • Education before the temptation – Ignorance is the devil’s plaything. Learn about the drugs other family members take and how they affect their lives, in both subtle and obvious ways. This can not only make it easier to resist falling into the addiction (it’s easier to understand consequences with a sober mind) but it puts a rational spin on the actions of an addict. “If we are not informed about something we simply might overlook something that in fact is right before our eyes,” wrote Boyd.
  • Find helpful organizations – This is especially important if the breadwinners of the household won’t shell out for paid help. Look online or at community centers for Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Alateen or other free or cheap support groups. “These groups are filled with lots of expertise in walking the line between being too soft and totally cutting the individual out of one’s life. If circumstances are dire enough, at times this drastic step is the only reasonable option—fortunately these instances are very rare,” warned Boyd.
  • Find them help – This can be a very difficult, emotionally fraught step. Try to help addicts see the harmful aspects of their habits, especially when they are relatively lucid and calm. Berating them on a regular basis is counterintuitive, even if tempting. If a moment of breakthrough happens, prepare them for counseling. Offer to accompany them to sessions and encourage attendance for extended periods of time, if necessary.
  • Don’t enable the addiction – “Allow the user to suffer some of the consequences of his or her drug abuse and do not cover-up or collude with the user. Thus, for example, I would not lie to employers about why the individual can’t come into work, make excuses to creditors, or pay off bills,” wrote Boyd. By letting the addict suffer some consequences, they will learn the safety net is not there. This can be a motivation for them to quit.
  • Know limits – Family is important but not more than sobriety and emotional stability. Focus on getting an education or doing well with a career, healthy relationships and other long term goals. One doesn’t have to feel shackled to their family, especially if they refuse to fight for their own sobriety. Don’t take more punishment than necessary for their mistakes.

Falling into the trap of drug addiction is easier than it sounds. An upbringing surrounded by people with bad habits make them seem like a normal part of life. The wrong circumstances can make almost anyone at least feel tempted, especially when family is involved. Genetics aren’t destiny and family isn’t fate. Reach out for help and break the cycle. Many have before and others will in the future.