When a family member has a drug or alcohol dependency, the entire family is affected by the addiction.
Communication barriers between addicts and loved ones are symptoms of addictive behavior. Frustrated family members and friends often despair when sincere efforts to help fail. Without exception, addiction affects more than the addict.
Family members may have tried to communicate their concern early in the loved one’s addiction, but without success. Addicts have a hard time accepting that they have a problem, therefore they will deny or hide their substance abuse. Feeling misunderstood they often isolate themselves, refusing communication with loved ones. At this point their substance of choice is their understanding friend. Effective communication is a vital lifeline to recovery. Breakdowns in communication can be mended with proper knowledge and understanding.
It is very common for family members and friends to unwittingly take on the position of “enabler” or “co-dependent”. This never helps the addict but actually feeds their addiction and jeopardizes recovery. For some loved ones this is simply a coping mechanism to deal with the continual chaos. Although they mean well, this is not a solution for recovery. The addictive behavior can only stopped as the individual begins to be responsible for himself or herself, actions, and choices. Hiding or making excuses for the addict will not lead them to sobriety.
When dealing with addictive behavior, individuals depending upon their own untrained coping mechanisms sometimes find themselves turning to alcohol, drugs, gambling, even becoming addicted themselves.
It can be a very lonely place living with an addict. One may experience shame, fear, depression, hopelessness, frustration and anger. You need to know that you are not alone; there are many others who are suffering through the same experiences and emotions. It is not your fault! Even if you have become an enabler, the addict is suffering because of deep emotions that need to surface and be healed. It is important that those affected by the addict also receive counsel, to help them through these difficult emotions and trials. Be encouraged; there is hope!