Substance abuse is more common than many people think, and drug addiction can affect anyone, anywhere. Stereotypes about what drug addiction is and is not can effectively blind people to drug abuse taking place within their own family, even under their own roof.
Effectively coping with drug abuse in your family requires that you educate yourself on the facts and myths surrounding drug addiction. Only the addict can decide to seek real help, but in the meantime, you have to protect yourself. In order to do that you must learn what drug addiction looks like, how subtle and insidious it can be, and what you should and should not feel obligated to do in interacting with your loved one with an addiction.
Learning to Recognize if You Are Being Abused
It can be easy to dismiss someone’s moody or irritable behavior as just a bad day, or working a thankless job to make ends meet. If something valuable goes missing, it can be easy to chalk it up to it being misplaced. Abuse is not always as obvious as physical assault. Emotional and financial abuse can grow steadily without the abused person realizing what is happening.
Often, someone engaging in emotional abuse tries to control their environment and people in it, despite the fact that the primary cause of their bad feelings is within themselves. If you recognize signs of abuse like “walking on eggshells,” feeling like you do not count, or constantly making accommodations to keep the peace, then you must concentrate on your own healing, or you will not be able to be there for the person with the drug addiction in a constructive way.
Learning to Recognize if You Are Enabling Addictive Behavior
When drug addiction exists in the family, one way good people try to make accommodations and keep the peace is by subtly colluding with the addict. This can take countless forms, like calling in to the addict’s place of work on his or her behalf when he or she is too impaired to work, or otherwise covering up for addictive behavior. Paying off debts incurred by someone with drug addiction is another form of enabling.
Organizations exist specifically for the families and loved ones of addicts, with Al-Anon being the most well-known. These groups offer regular meetings in almost every city, and can be enormously helpful for learning when and how to disengage and avoid enabling.
Recognizing the Importance of Your Own Well-Being
Family members of drug addicts want the person they love to recover, even if the addict’s behavior has been completely unacceptable. Unfortunately, loved ones themselves can become beaten down and defeated by the addict’s repeated unacceptable behavior, to the point where their own finances, employment, and relationships are jeopardized.
Understanding what addiction-related behavior looks like, what the subtle signs of drug abuse are, and what does and does not work in relating to someone with drug addiction is absolutely necessary so you do not endanger your own well-being and so that you are able to help in constructive ways (or disengage if that is not possible).
Education Can Help You Start the Conversation
Finally, educating yourself about drug addiction can help you start the conversation about addiction with your loved one. It does not necessarily guarantee that the conversation will have the results that you want, but you will learn how to express that you know what is going on, and that despite the fact that you care, you cannot continue to make up for the addict’s behavior. Understanding of the numerous physical, mental, and spiritual effects that drug addiction creates helps you state your feelings without being angry, blameful, or judgmental. Knowing that drug addiction is a complex disease from which it takes time to recover helps you in your own self-healing, whether or not the addict you love chooses to reach out for help.
It is easy to think you know what drug abuse and drug abusers are like from seeing depictions in the media, but it is not always as obvious in real life. Therefore, it is important to understand how drug addiction actually presents, and what to do when you realize it is happening. If you need to know more, please contact us at any time. We understand that addiction is more often than not a family affair, and we are here whenever you are ready to reach out.
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