Drug or Alcohol Recovery

Addiction and Drug or Alcohol Recovery

When a family member is an alcoholic or drug addict, the emotional toll on all concerned can be overwhelming. The effects on the children of an addict can be profound, and emotional scars can run deep. Where the child or teenager is the addict, the parents often experience total desperation in their attempt to help. “Rock bottom” in the field of addiction can mean death, so the concern is genuine and the need for drug or alcohol recovery is imperative.

Some schools of thought teach that alcoholism or drug addiction is a hereditary or genetic disease passed on from parent to child. This theory can impose guilt upon the parent, and make them feel as though they have passed on a genetic disorder. Whichever theory one subscribes to, the question should be asked, “If an individual is no longer dependent on drugs or alcohol and is free from cravings, is that person still addicted?

When addiction is present, one approach from parents is “tough love.” A common scenario is that the child or teen Drug or Alcohol Recoveryuses the parents’ money to support a habit – either by using a family account or by stealing the money. The parents are put in a very difficult situation: on one hand, they are directly supporting their child’s habit, which can lead to disaster;  if they bar the child from using any funds, they could resort to other means, wind up on the street, or worse. Either way, “financial tough love,” as it could be termed, is a risky proposition.

Another approach is intervention, where family, friends join forces to convince the alcoholic or addict that drug or alcohol recovery is essentially mandatory. This technique can work, but no matter the method, getting the willingness of the person is essential.

How can a family help in the drug or alcohol recovery process for an addict or alcoholic?

  • COMMUNICATE. Talking about the problem is fundamental to solving it. Communication is the building block for a family or group. When you discuss addiction, try refraining from getting overly emotional. This could be next to impossible, but at least work on it. It doesn’t mean be any less compassionate, but breaking down the problem analytically will go a long way.
  • ACCEPT AMENDS. If an addict or alcoholic is making a successful recovery, at some point you can expect the person to offer some sort of apology. This should be acknowledged and accepted by the family members involved. It is an important step in the process.
  • KNOW WHEN TO FALL BACK. Rehabilitation is a delicate process. It can also be nerve-wracking for the parents or family – putting trust in others with their loved one. When a person is withdrawing from long-term drug or alcohol abuse, they will run the gamut of emotional and physical stress. They may call the parents and beg to be taken out of the program. In these scenarios, calm reassurance is usually the optimum response. Certainly, the parent should get all their questions answered by a professional treatment staff, but if they are agitated or “electrified” with their loved one, the situation can be exacerbated. Maintaining composure, though difficult, will help.
  • SUPPORT. Your loved one’s recovery will be greatly assisted by your encouragement and support. Each little step is one step closer to the overall goal. It is important to acknowledge each stride taken.

Drug addiction and drug or alcohol recovery is a field in which we deal with the raw stuff of life and death. Addict’s have made repeated visits to the dealer’s street corner, finally the emergency room, and wound up in a rehab center. Guilt, loneliness, desperation, anxiety, financial stress, health problems – all these and more can be an unbearable burden upon a family. The wrong thing to do is “nothing.” Dealing with the hard realities of addiction takes a team effort. The family can be a major factor in complete recovery!

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