Imagine you are given a hammer and nails, and all the supplies and material you need to build a home – and you’re given instructions and guidance on how to do so. Chances are you may not build the perfect mansion, but in time, you could construct a shelter that would protect yourself and your family from the rain and storms. Now imagine if you are given the same tools, materials and instructions, but you are blindfolded and your hands and feet bounded by cords. Would you be able to build the same shelter for your family? Would you be discouraged? Give up and leave your family to fend for themselves? When it comes to growing and supporting a family, addiction acts as a blindfold and chains. Building a marriage, raising children and supporting a family isn’t easy – but it’s a whole lot more difficult when you add drugs or alcohol into the mix. Being bound by substance use and addiction causes many families to give up on one another and walk away from the people they love. Addiction causes anger and hurt and frustration that run so deep – it seems there is no other solution.
Secrecy and Denial Surround Addicted Families.
One of the most predominant symptoms of addiction forms in denial: Denial of the existence of the addiction and denial of the effect addiction has on family and close friends. Denial shuts the door for conversation, for help, and for healthy relationships. Denial will eat away at your family, your children, and every aspect of your life. Drug and alcohol addictions thrive on secrecy. Those in active addiction may be hiding pills, sneaking alcohol, covering up track marks. The family members of those using substances however, may be making excuses for her behavior, calling in sick for him, or not partaking in activities they used to enjoy – in order to avoid the questions or rumors that may be circulating. When addiction is involved in a family unit, the communication begins to break down – and families who were once a tight knit group, find themselves falling apart. Lack of communication, distrust, verbal and physical use, and marital conflict can seep into the walls of the home. We’ll do things we never in our worst nightmares imagined, and lash out at those we love.
Addiction will Change your Family Tree.
Drug and alcohol addictions are costly – draining both time and money. Addiction takes every ounce of energy and focus from the person using the substance – and steals the mental and emotional well-being of their family members. As a result, family units affected by addiction face even greater problems than the average family: Heightened financial problems, increased stress, health concerns, emotional distress, social withdrawal, and trust issues. Some families will face broken relationships between mother and son, father and daughter, husband and wife. Other families will face depleted bank accounts, dried up savings accounts, foreclosed homes. Some families will lose their children to protective services. Addiction won’t just affect the person who is using heroin, Oxycontin, Xanax or alcohol. Without the proper treatment program and drug rehab, addiction’s effects will trickle down in the lives of your loved ones – and affect the entire family tree.
Recovery can Save your Family Tree.
If drugs or alcohol have become a third person in your marriage or a wedge between you and your family – recovery from addiction can change and even save your family tree. Addiction recovery involves various types of therapy. For those who are married or have a family – addiction treatment often includes therapy sessions in which the spouse or family members participate. Part of the healing process includes opportunities to discuss the damaged relationships, past grievances, and open wounds. Opening up communication will allow you to work on the relationship, and gradually – bring about a renewed sense of trust. Much like recovery from addiction, healing family relationships won’t look the same for everyone – and it will take time. However, the common principles taken from addiction recovery can encourage family recovery:
- Honesty: Honesty in addiction recovery will allow you to openly face your addiction and commit to being truthful in your relationships going forward.
- Courage: It won’t be easy to be open and honest – in fact, it may involve uncovering a tremendous amount of pain and emotions. But recovery will guide you to finding the courage to confront yourself – and your loved ones in order to heal.
- Integrity: Integrity gives us the ability to take responsibility for our past behaviors and actions. Integrity in recovery will help heal the wounds of past mistakes in your relationships.
- Acceptance: Accept that your addiction has caused harm within your family. Acknowledging that addiction has seeped into your relationships will help you to grow and move forward.
- Humility: It’s hard to ask for help. However, everyday in recovery won’t be easy. Learning to ask for help when needed will guide you towards a stronger relationship with your spouse and family.
- Forgiveness: Working through issues with family and spouses must incorporate forgiveness. Ask for forgiveness from those whom you have hurt through your addiction. Remember: Forgiveness isn’t just about your words – forgiveness must also come in the form of actions.
- Willingness: Are you ready to change? Are you really ready to heal? You must have the willingness to work towards your recovery and work towards healing relationships.
- Hope: Hope of recovery is a powerful motivator in your health. Hope for healing will drive you to work towards mending relationships within your family.
When you are in the throes of addiction, it may seem like there is no way out. However, through recovery, the pain that addiction has caused you and your family can be stopped and mended. Your life can be healed, and your family can be, too. Addiction will change your family tree – but recovery will give you new life.