For those surrounding the addict
Firstly when we refer to addict we refer to a person who is dependant on any chemical including alcohol, therefore this section relates to alcoholism and drug addiction of any kind.
A family illness...
Addiction is recognised today as a family illness due partly to the fact that the family members are so deeply affected by alcoholism and drug dependency. Those closest to the addict, primarily family, generally suffer and often become as emotionally distressed as the addict themself.
Are you affected by someone else's addiction?
When someone is chemically dependant, whether it is drugs or alcohol, they will dramatically affect the lives of at least 5 other people. This could be family members, friends or colleagues. Recognising and admitting that a loved one or friend is chemically dependant is difficult but recognising and admitting that the addiction is affecting you is even more difficult. The effect on those surrounding the alcoholic/addict can be extremely negative and can often lead to stress and anxiety related illnesses. It can also lead to negative coping strategies for those close to the dependant and so they too need help in dealing with the problem.
Am I one of those affected?
If you can answer yes to more than one of the below questions then it is possible that you are affected by someone else's addiction.
- Do you worry about how much this person drinks or uses drugs?
- Have you lied to cover up for the person?
- Have you been hurt or embarrassed by the person's behaviour?
- Are you angry, confused or depressed because of the person's behaviour?
- Is the person experiencing financial or health problems because of drinking or using drugs?
- Has this person ever been in trouble with the law due to their drinking or drug use?
It is almost impossible for those around an active addict not be drawn into the sickness. Such persons are bound to become anxious, fearful, develop feelings of low self worth, anger and resentment. They are likely to develop their own emotional illness in connection with another's addiction and they too need help in dealing with the problem.
As family members, you cannot fix the chemically dependent person. You need to allow the addict the dignity to recover at their own pace however frustrating and difficult this may be.
A coping mechanism...
Family members can feel better by using the basic tool of detachment. Very simply detachment is the ability to live one's own life. It means taking responsibility for ourselves and letting go of responsibility for the addict without abandoning them and therefore living a life not centred around someone else's drinking or using.
Any family member living with alcoholism or addiction needs to learn detachment, however this is not a skill which comes easily or quickly but with learning and practice it can be a life saver for those affected by the addict.
At Silkworth Lodge we also offer support to family members whilst their dependants are resident in treatment. There is a family group session held once a week which includes both parties. This session is used to face the issues that addiction has caused in the relationship and discuss them openly and honestly.
If you are living with addiction or alcoholism and you would like some more information on detachment or support groups please feel free to give us a call on 01534 729060.