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Five Tips for Family Members Dealing with the Disease of Addiction

Five Tips for Family Members Dealing with the Disease of Addiction

By: Megan Evans

Addiction is a family disease. Although only one person may truly be chemically dependent upon a substance, everyone else around that person who is in addiction suffers as well. 

Addiction can destabilize the entire family. It causes our loved ones to become codependent on us, doing things they swore they would never do. The consequences and behaviors caused by our addiction can create trauma and strained relationships with those we love. This trauma often results in failed marriages, broken homes, and children who are being raised by people other than their parent’s. Like the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, ”addiction is cunning, baffling, and powerful.” If you are a family member of someone who struggles with addiction and you feel trapped by loving someone in addiction, there is hope for you and your loved one. 


Sometimes, we must come to the harsh realization that enabling the person struggling could do more harm than good. In reality, the best thing you can do for someone in active addiction is not to enable them. Enabling is when you help the addicted person continue to live life addicted. Desperation can frequently be a gift that is given with the best of intentions, often in an attempt to relieve hardship. Below, you will find 5 tips for family members of addicts who are currently in active addiction or that are in recovery. I hope these tips will help you stay hopeful as you and your loved one heal from their addiction. Knowledge is power. The more we know, the more we can help others and ourselves in the process. 


5 Tips for Family Members - Coping With The Disease of Addiction 


  1. Connect With Others- It is a great idea for family members to join small groups such as Al-Anon, Celebrate Recovery, or church groups. Meetings such as these allow the family to find support in others who are facing the same issues you are dealing with. Research states that meetings can help decrease the feeling of isolation and negative stigma attached to addiction and recovery. 
  2. Manage Expectations- “Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.” This popular phrase holds so much truth. People don’t get better overnight, and families don't get restored in a matter of days. You need to be patient with your loved one and with yourself. It takes time for healing to take place properly. It will happen, but not necessarily in the first 24 hours. It takes time. The addiction didn’t happen overnight, the restoration won’t either. 
  3. Self-Care- Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Sometimes family members who are caring for a loved one in addiction often neglect themselves. They put their own needs last. Spend time with your family and friends. Don’t let the addiction destroy everything around you. Find joy in something small every day. Exercise, eat healthily, and make sure you are getting enough sleep. Remember, the only person that can save them is themselves.
  4. Therapy Sessions- A lot of people dealing with those in addiction can suffer from depression or anxiety. Therapy is a great way to relieve all of the added stress. Not only therapy for yourself, but for your loved one as well. Family therapy, when your loved one is ready, is a great way to address the trauma that comes with addiction. Therapy is a great way to restore marriages and relationships that were lost to addiction. 



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