Addiction of any sort is a serious issue for any individual. It creates even more problems for people in couples and families. Everybody becomes part of the chaos and destruction the addicted person brings to the scene. Not only are the effects immediate, causing emotional, social, physical, and financial disorder, but they can be long lasting. People are influenced by their family experiences in general. People in families with one or more people who are addicts can be scarred for life—in personal, relationship, and career choices. They can and often will pass on these problematic behaviors to their children and even later generations.
We like to think that each addiction is unique. Not true! Addictions stimulate similar areas of the brain, creating a loop that “keeps on giving.” The addict creates a bubble of pleasure, shuts herself/himself off from the world, and slides deeper into an abyss.
The best approach is to help the person with the addiction as well as the family that person is affecting. The addict—whether s/he is abusing substances, sex, food, porn, social media, Internet or something else—should see a counselor by themselves. If necessary, a physician should be involved in the process to address medication and possible medical problems. The family should also see that counselor or one with whom that counselor consults.
In addition, with the help of the counselor, appropriate community resources should be used. The addict should go to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters or any other related support group. The members of the family should go to Alanon or COA. All these groups are free and can usually be found through the internet or in the phone book. Children too young to attend these supports can be given age and level of reading appropriate material; talk to your local children’s librarian.
The primary issue is that the addict stop, the family not continue to deny and/or enable the addict to use, and the addict and the family start to heal. We can recover from addictions with love, caring, counseling, and making a commitment to ourselves and our loved ones.