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How Does Addiction Affect Families?

Addiction is a family disease. When a loved one suffers, the entire family suffers along with them. Addiction negatively affects all relationships that a sufferer has, and the consequences the disease has on families may be the most devastating. Through recovery and maintaining sobriety, however, we can rebuild familial relationships, trust, and clean up the wreckage we have caused to our families.

The behavior of an individual suffering from addiction shifts the behaviors of every member of the family. Dan Mager, in a 2016 Psychology Today article entitled Addiction as a Family Affliction, explains, “when a family member struggles with active addiction, he or she usually under-functions and behaves irresponsibly. This, too, shapes the behavior of other family members. They typically respond by becoming more controlling and overly responsible. Whenever a family member struggles with any serious ongoing condition, everyone in the family is significantly affected. The equilibrium or balance of the family system shifts as each member changes and adjusts accordingly. These changes usually occur incrementally, subtly, and unconsciously.” These behaviors may include distancing oneself from the individual, or engaging in enabling behaviors in an attempt to protect their loved one.

In recovery, extending therapy to the family can be an effective way to rebuild relationships and help an individual maintain their sobriety. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Because of the variety of family therapy models, the diverse schools of thought in the field, and the different degrees to which family therapy is implemented, multiple therapeutic factors probably account for the effectiveness of family therapy. Among them might be acceptance from the therapist; improved communication; organizing the family structure; determining accountability; and enhancing impetus for change, which increases the family’s motivation to change its patterns of interaction and frees the family to make changes. Family therapy also views substance abuse in its context, not as an isolated problem, and shares some characteristics with 12‐Step programs, which evoke solidarity, self‐confession, support, self‐esteem, awareness, and smooth re‐entry into the community.” Family therapy allows problems to be openly discussed when they may have been previously ignored by the family. Just as we can only achieve sobriety once we have recognized our addiction, we can only repair our family life once we accept that there is a problem.

Addiction does not have to be a life sentence. Recovery is possible, no matter how far down the scale one has gone. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, understands the complexities of addiction and the consequences is may have on family, and are focused on helping clients develop healthier, more fulfilling lifestyles that support long-term sobriety. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call today: (833) 242-6431