Addiction is a family illness
I have been a clinical counselor for about twenty years. Much of that time I have worked in chemical dependency treatment. Most of the focus of treatment is on the chemically dependent person learning to live life without the use of mood altering substances. However, one area that is often under served is the family members of the chemically dependent.
Family members are stressed by the addiction and can become emotionally sick along with the substance abuser. The following is a list (taken from a recent training I attended) of some of the effects chemical dependency can have on family members.
- They are suspicious of the addict’s actions. This leads to constant family conflict.
- They blame themselves for the addict’s illness.
- They are afraid of the addict’s unpredictability, especially of the mood swings.
- They fear that the family will break up.
- They are constantly feeling disappointed by the addict due to the addict’s inability to live up to commitments and obligations.
- They are embarrassed by the addict’s behavior.
- They resent the unfair demands put upon them by the addict.
You may see yourself in some or the entire above list. If so, you are not alone. There is help.
If you are troubled by the family illness of addiction please seek confidential help. Al-anon groups, Codependency Anonymous groups and Adult Children of Alcoholics groups are the best known family resources.
You may also access professional counseling to help you deal with the emotional issues of the family illness. Telephone numbers for these resources are available in your local phone book.
Sources for help:
ACA – Adult Children of Alcoholics (also abbreviated as ACOA)
Al-Anon/Alateen, for friends and family members of alcoholics
CoDA – Co-Dependents Anonymous
Co-Anon – for friends and family of addicts
COSA – Codependents of Sex Addicts
COSLAA – CoSex and Love Addicts Anonymous