Family members who live with addiction may become traumatized to varying degrees by the experience. It shakes the very ground of all that we know and trust, and whether it happens quickly or over time, addiction will take its toll on all those who come in contact with it. Whether it is a spouse, parent, child, or sibling, addiction in the family affects everyone. For many family members, it feels as though they are witnessing a slow suicide. Each day they lose a little bit more of the man, woman, or child they love, until what remains is merely a shadow of the person or life they knew.
As addiction takes hold of an individual, it becomes the main motivating factor in their life, most often at the cost of all that was important to them including work, school, daily responsibilities and familial relationships. No one is prepared for this, and it is difficult to comprehend. Many family members begin to question themselves, wondering where they went wrong; yelling, crying, criticizing, cajoling, begging, fixing, ignoring, trying only that much harder to stop the pain and save their loved one. For most, attempt after attempt is repeatedly met with failure. Within this place of helplessness families experience profound grief, stress, conflict and anxiety.
Just like support for the addict is critical, so it is for the family. Family recovery begins with what is, in essence, the individual recoveries of its members. The addict is only one piece of the puzzle. Everyone in an addicted family system deserves to get help, and the sooner they get it, the sooner the family can start to heal.
Links & Resources
High Theatre Company and Children of Addicted Parents and People present One Day I Will. A Short film working with the real life experiences and poetry of young people who have been affected by an addiction in their family.