Addiction Treatment and the Family

For the Family

While it may seem that the alcoholic or addict is in great pain, it's the family that usually suffers the most. Repeated attempts to help the addict result in frustration and despair. It's you who feels betrayed when you discover money is missing. It's you who works a second job to make up for the financial damage. It's who you feels sick with worry on that dreaded night when he or she doesn't come home and doesn't answer the phone. It's you who lies awake nights trying to figure out what to do...

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you change, the addict or alcoholic in your life has to change. Intervention is less about forcing your loved one to get help and more about empowering family members to change how they deal with the addict or alcoholic's behaviors. Your love has provided a soft place to land for the addict or alcoholic, probably for quite some time. On some level, he or she is more comfortable dealing with the negative consequences of addiction than facing the cold hard reality of quitting.

By the time family members seek help for the alcohol or drug addiction of a loved one, it's likely they've become so mired in this destructive drama that they are unable to see how their behaviors enabled the addict or alcoholic to continue using. On the outside, there may be protestation and frustration but on the inside there is great confusion mixed with hope that their loved one will “get it” this time. Enabling emerges out of good intentions and the belief that if they don't “help”, their loved one could die. Of course, this is a very real fear as there is always the possibility of death when dealing with addiction.

The unfortunate truth is that most people struggling with alcohol and drugs don't just “get it.” The very real choice for those who refuse to get help is “jails, institutions or death.” Without an outside force to intervene and help break the pattern, your love and hope will continue to be tested day after day as the addict or alcoholic continues to spiral down and inflict pain on themselves, and you. This is why the sooner you can secure professional help, the better.

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