By Family Therapist, Judi Jenett
For families, the pain of living with a loved one’s addiction can lead to shame, secrecy and isolation. Spouses often feel responsible for their partner’s addiction, and parents feel responsible for the addictions of their children. Children of addiction often suffer from abuse or neglect, and they often develop addictions of their own later in life. Families feel a need to keep the addiction a secret out of shame, fear of criticism, pride, a desire to protect the addict, and fear of financial consequences. In trying to keep these difficult secrets, family members often become controlling and rigid, yet at the same time, they may feel powerless, hopeless, and depressed. In a very real sense, the family becomes as disabled by the addiction as the addicted person does. For children and young adolescents it is a confusing time because no one is talking about what is really going on in the house. Everyone is affected both emotionally, physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.
Although addiction causes great stress in families, it need not destroy them. With proper treatment, families can become stronger and closer. Successful recovery of the family means considerably more than mere abstinence by the substance-abusing member. For months and often years, the family challenged by substance abuse has been functioning in an unhealthy manner to accommodate the disease. Families will need to unlearn coping mechanisms that evolved to adapt to the disease and learn new healthy thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors.
The Treatment Center recognizes the importance of the family as a whole unit and encourages family members to attend our bi-weekly intensive Family Workshops. At our workshops, family dynamics are explored openly and respectfully so that each person feels heard. Overcoming communication difficulties and interaction with the chemically dependent family member are of top priority. Those attending the program receive the tools necessary to begin the process of recovery and develop their own resiliency. Our Family Workshops are open to family members and loved ones ages 12 and older.
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