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Thursday, August 13, 2020

What Families Need to Know About Addiction

what families need to know about addiction

When your loved one is showing signs of being addicted to drugs or alcohol, it can affect your entire family. You are undoubtedly worried about your loved one’s health and well-being. Their addiction may strain your relationship. You may even feel helpless as you watch them continue their addictive ways. What families need to know about addiction is what is behind it, how it works in your loved one’s mind and body, and how you can help them.

A Complex Disease


People don’t choose addiction. It is a complex condition, a brain disease manifested by compulsive substance use despite the harmful consequences it can cause. Addiction takes over your loved one’s life. They will keep using drugs or alcohol, and doing whatever it takes to get them, even when they know it will cause problems for them and their families.

When your loved one is addicted, they have distorted thinking, behavior, and body functions. They experience changes in the wiring of their brains, resulting in intense cravings that make it very hard to stop using. Brain imaging studies have shown physical changes in an addict’s brain that relate to judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behavior control.

How It Starts


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that people have a variety of reasons for taking drugs or drinking alcohol. They may do it:
  • To feel good — feeling of pleasure, “high”
  • To feel better — e.g., relieve stress
  • To do better — improve performance
  • Because of curiosity and peer pressure

The Need for More


Regardless of why they started taking drugs or drinking alcohol, they will build up a tolerance over time. Your loved one will then need to consume larger amounts to feel the same effects. Even if they are aware of emerging health problems, as well as problems at work or with family and friends, they could simply be unable to stop on their own.

The Addiction Experience


A research study published by NCBI attempted to learn more about addiction, from the perspective of those individuals who were addicted. Their stories are unique and insightful as to why they began using drugs or alcohol and what their experience was as an addict. These stories add to what families need to know about addiction, to understand what their loved one is experiencing.

A mother, Latoya, who was in treatment for heroin and nicotine addiction, believed that addiction was a part of human nature. She said, “I feel like everybody got addiction, you know what I mean, ‘cause they have addiction to smoking, addiction to going to work, you know, so somebody has an addiction somewhere in them.” Connecting her experience to a trend she perceived in others, Latoya had developed a sense that her addiction, though problematic and disabling, was not unique to her, but in fact, a common experience along the spectrum of “normal” human behavior.

Joe, who was a self-described blue-collar worker in his late forties, shared what he believed to be a strong connection among his mental health, employment, and alcoholism cycles. He said, “It is anxiety and stress that I was dealing with. [Alcohol] just calmed me down so that I used it as a tool, like a self-medication for me...I have depression and anxiety and overwhelming problems with employment, it was very stressful...but it has nothing to do with family or anything...I would quit for a month here and there; I have quit for a couple of weeks here and there. But I always went back when the anxiety and depression set in when I'm dealing with work.”

Paige, a housewife in her fifties, spoke about her pattern of abuse and the bargaining process. She said, “I had a blackout, don't remember, ended up in the hospital...then I got out of the hospital after three days and swore I would never drink again. And within two weeks I was having wine again. I told myself it was just wine, it couldn't do any damage. So, yeah. And it just spiraled down and I was very, very depressed and constantly hopeless... I have emotional triggers that are problematic.”

The Impact on the Family


What families need to know about addiction is that they are not necessarily overreacting when they notice problems in their loved one’s work, health, finances, relationships, social functioning, legal issues, self-esteem, or self-respect. Their substance use has become more important than the problems it causes. When your loved one continues to use drugs or alcohol in spite of the fact that their behavior is causing these problems, that is a problem in itself – for them and for you.

As untreated problems continue, family members develop their own issues. Partners of people who have substance use problems can suffer greatly. Common symptoms include headaches, backaches, digestive problems, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Children of parents with substance use disorders can experience school behavior problems, poor academic performance, and are more likely to struggle with addiction themselves.

Help for Your Loved One and Your Family


Taking those first steps to help your loved one begin treatment can be a painful process. Celebrate Hope can guide you through the challenges of helping your loved one realize their brokenness and getting treatment at a reputable Christian addiction treatment facility. We are a faith-based addiction program firmly rooted in the 12 Steps and in the teachings of Christ and we are here to help you and your loved one. For more information about our evidence-based addiction treatment, contact us today.

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