Struggling through addiction can be one of the most challenging times in a person’s life. The hard truth is that addiction does not just affect the victim. Addiction is a disease that affects everyone in a patient’s life, especially their family. Attitude changes, neglect, struggling relationships and high-risk behaviour are all signs of a drug addiction. Graduates of paramedic training may be called upon to provide emergency medical care to an addict who has suffered an overdose – and these first responders can confirm that addiction is a disease that doesn’t discriminate by social status or cultural background. Addiction can impact any member of our community.
It is difficult for family members to watch their loved one undergo hardship, and it can be especially hard to fight feelings of betrayal, frustration and guilt that may accompany urging a family member to seek addiction counselling. Despite the range of emotions which can stem from this decision, it is ultimately one of the most effective roads to recovery.
Sometimes, an addict will become so closed off that the only people left in their life are persistently devoted family members. At this point, family bears the responsibility and duty to get their loved one help. In difficult circumstances, the family may have to call in a trained addictions counsellor or community services worker to mediate an intervention. In other cases, the family may be able to have a more private and non-confrontational sit-down with the affected family member and talk about the possibility of counselling. Seeing how the family is affected by their addiction can sometimes inspire an addict to finally accept that they need counselling.
Build Family Through Treatment
While the focus of addiction counselling is primarily the patient, including family members in the process can help them become more educated about the nature of this disease. Family members may learn things such as how to avoid triggers and also how to rebuild the family bond that may have been damaged by the addiction. In a counselling atmosphere, the patient is removed from the toxic environments which may have fed their addiction, which in turn can offer family members new perspective on critical contributing factors. Family members may even recognize their role in enabling the addiction, and learn how to adjust their behaviours to help stop the cycle.
Aftercare and Support
Family plays a critical role in the aftercare following addiction counselling. Counselling programs can last from 20-30 days and are often very intensive for the patient, which is why it is important they have a strong support system following treatment. Family members may provide short term housing, but more importantly, an ear to listen. A recovering addict may feel ashamed to speak about their experiences with friends, so sharing with family could well be their only release. Family is also responsible for promoting healthy behaviour, and ensuring that there are no indications of an impending relapse. Supporting family may liken their role to someone who has undergone psw training – helping their family member regain independence while also ensuring they remain stable and healthy.
When it comes to addiction recovery, what do you see as the most important role of family?