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Help for Family of Drug Addicts

If your family is touched by addiction, you may spend a significant amount of time and energy thinking about ways you can convince the addict to change. Sometimes, however, the addiction also changes you. In fact, you might even develop addictions of your own. While these changes can be frightening, and you might even feel as though they’re completely out of your control, there are some things you can do to get back on track, even if the original addict in the family isn’t yet ready to ask for help.

*Have I Changed?

If you’re not convinced that addiction has changed your life, look closely at these common family changes associated with substance abuse. You might recognize some of your own behavior here:

  • Increasing arguments among family members
  • Escalating violence, between partners and between parents and children
  • Emotional isolation
  • Increased substance abuse by all parties

Counseling and Treatment Help

Addiction programs often provide family therapy, in which all members of the family are brought together to discuss the addiction and how it has changed the dynamics of the family. They all learn together, and often, couples emerge from family therapy with a stronger understanding both of addiction and their connection. Families with children who abuse drugs and alcohol can also benefit from family therapy. There are various top inpatient and outpatient treatment programs which you can choose from. For example, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, teens who participated in family therapy had significantly fewer convictions for aggressive criminal activity in the years after therapy. If your child abuses drugs or alcohol, this therapy could help your family avoid the tragic consequences of addiction.

If the original addict in the family will not get help, that doesn’t mean you cannot get counseling on your own. If you’re dealing with your own addiction, counseling might help you to combat that process and help you to gain control of your life once more. If you’re not addicted but you still feel somehow responsible for, or concerned about, the addiction process occurring in the life of someone else in the family, counseling might also be helpful for you.

*5 Questions to Ask a Counselor

If you’re choosing your own counselor, consider asking these questions:

  1. Are you licensed by the state?
  2. Do you accept my insurance plan?
  3. Do you specialize in addiction issues?
  4. Do you have an on-call system to deal with emergencies?
  5. How long have you been in practice?

Support Groups

You might be accustomed to keeping the addiction a secret, but it might be incredibly helpful for you to think about joining a support group for families of addicts. There are many different types of these groups available. For example, Al-Anon is a support group designed for friends and families of problem drinkers. According to the organization’s website, the meetings are held in most communities in the United States and Canada. There are support groups designed for children of addicts as well, and other support groups are designed for people living with those addicted to illicit substances. Most groups print their meeting schedules in the local paper, but your addiction counselor might also be able to direct you to meetings that could be right for you. By taking the time to meet other people dealing with addiction, you may learn new coping skills that could help make your situation a bit easier to bear.