Healthy Living

Addiction and Your Family

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

According to a national survey on drug use, 21.5 million people, as young as 12 years old, have or have had a substance abuse disorder. These numbers include the use of tobacco, drugs and/or, alcohol, and often the two addictions go hand-in-hand. It’s important to remember, however, that substance abuse is often the result of other family or lifestyle struggles. Too many people don’t get the help they need to overcome their daily struggles with addiction, and when an individual suffers, the entire family suffers with them.

Will Substance Abuse Affect Your Family?

Too often family members don’t recognize that a loved one has an addiction problem or ignores the warning signs. The following statistics present a clear picture of the severity of the problem:

  • Every day, 100 people die from drug overdoses, a steep increase over the past 20 years.
  • 6 million people have an addiction relationship with both drugs and alcohol.
  • In 2011, more than 9 million people reported driving while affected by illegal drugs.
  • The age range with the highest rate of illicit drug use is 18 to 25.
  • Nearly 100 percent of the people with addictions began using tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs before turning 18.

It’s easy to think this situation won’t affect your family. However, there are some situations that catch people off-guard. For example, the mother of a young family may be given opioids during a surgical procedure and for her recovery. This mother is at high risk of developing an addiction. Maybe a young person experiences a troubled relationship and turns to alcohol for “help” dealing with the associated emotions. Sometimes, it’s just hard to believe that your daughter or brother or parent could have a problem.

What Is Addiction?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine clarifies the meaning of addiction: a chronic disease affecting the reward, memory, and motivation functions of the brain. As the brain changes, so will behaviors. This means it is possible to recognize the warning signs of addiction:

  • Inability to avoid the use of a substance
  • Avoidance of friends and social situations
  • Lack of fulfilling commitments, such as not showing up at work
  • Ignoring the danger of risks, such as sharing needles
  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Irritability and/or depression

The first step in helping your family member recover from substance abuse is recognizing these and other emotional, mental, and physical signs.

What Can Be Done?

Once you recognize the addiction, what’s the next step? Recovery is a long process that can result in improved health and wellness, and most individuals require a strong support system as they make tough changes. There are many South Florida rehab centers, but the primary element of success is family support. This doesn’t mean correcting the problems left behind after addictive behavior; this is actually called “enabling” and only encourages more addictive behaviors.

How Can Families Help?

Instead, family members should focus on addressing their own feelings of frustration, anger, helplessness, fear, or resentment. Counselors at the rehab center may provide guidance for family members in this area. This way, the family will be ready to accept their loved one when they return home. Family members may have to make other changes in their home and lives. However, family involvement is crucial to successful recovery, and families must work closely with counselors to help appropriately.

If you or someone you know is experiencing substance abuse and struggling with addiction, get help today. Many rehabilitation professionals are ready to provide help without judgment or accusation.

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