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Supporting Families Affected by Addiction

When someone is battling addiction, it does not only affect that person.  It affects their friends and family as well.  Everyone feels the impact of the situation.  This can be difficult to cope with.  While the addict receives counseling and support in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, not all facilities offer support to the family.  But they need help too.

Unfortunately, there continues to be a lingering stigma attached to addiction.  People are hesitant to talk about it so they avoid bringing it up in conversation.  Some family members may feel embarrassed to admit that a loved one is going through these struggles.  But it is important to remember that addiction is a disease just like so many others.  It is nothing to be embarrassed about.

As this article on Slate.com so openly points out, when someone is diagnosed with a disease such as cancer, their friends rally around them to provide support.  They cook meals, provide transportation, run errands, and send notes of encouragement.  But when someone is being treated for addiction, the need for support may not be as evident.  Friends and family may not be aware of the situation if the family has not shared their struggles.  They may feel uncomfortable admitting that their loved one is battling addiction.  If they should open up or confide in you, let them know that you are there for them.

Supporting Families in Need

People often become so focused on helping their loved one through addiction that they forget to focus on their own wellbeing.  It is important they address their own needs as well.  More organizations are beginning to recognize this need and are developing support groups specifically for families.  Here they can learn more about addiction, how they can help, and how to cope with the impact on their own lives.  They can connect with others going through similar situations.  This allows them to build a network of support to which they can turn.

How to Help Families Affected by Addiction

Family friends are often unsure how they can help.  One of the best ways to assess the family’s needs is simply to ask.  Ask if there is anything they need or how to best be of assistance.  Although it is a difficult situation, do not be afraid to reach out and offer support.

  • Simply Listen – sometimes the best help that another person can provide is simply to listen.  Let the other person express their feelings and frustrations.  You don’t have to have the right answers.  In fact, they may not be looking for answers at all.  Just saying things out loud and confiding in another person may help them to better organize and understand their thoughts and feelings.
  • Stay Active – dealing with addiction as a family can be stressful.  Offer to go out for a fun night to take their mind off of things.  Help them discover effective ways of coping.  Make sure that they are taking the time to care for themselves and engaging in activities that they enjoy.  They may feel alone but let them know that you are always there for them.
  • Read Up – take the time to become more informed about addiction.  Gaining a better understanding of the disease and the recovery process can help friends to better relate.  They may not be experiencing the same thing, but at least they have an idea of what the family is going through.  This can also help to inspire more ways to be of assistance.

It is important for families to know that there is help available.  Friends can support their recovery by encouraging them to take advantage of the resources available.  Professional help or organized support groups can make the journey less stressful.

If your family is affected by addiction, contact Chapters Capistrano today to see how we can help.  Families do not have to go through this process alone.  There are others who understand the challenges and can help them work through these difficulties.  Addiction affects the entire family, and the entire family should have access to the help and support they need.