Having a family member that has a drug or alcohol addiction is one of the hardest life experiences a person can go through. Seeing a loved one go through the depths of deprivation can be despairing for all concerned. Rehab Healthcare understands what you are going through and is here to help support you to minimise the emotional turmoil that you may be experiencing.
Whether it be a parent, a child or your partner, it is devastating to see someone you love so dearly behave in a way that is so damaging to themselves and those around them. Being unable to help leaves you, the family member, feeling a range of emotions, from frustration to anger to shame and sorrow.
The problem you face as a family member of someone with an addiction is that you cannot cure the person’s illness. All you want for them is to be happy and to not have to rely on a drink or a drug to make them feel better. You don’t understand why they are doing what they are doing – what is so bad about their lives that they feel the need to do this to themselves?. Why can’t they just stop?.
As a family member of someone with an addiction, there are varying stages of your relationship with the addiction and the addicted person. It may be that you are wary of someone’s behaviour and unsure whether they have an addiction or not. You may well have just found out that your family member has an addiction and they don’t know that you are aware of this. You may be at the stage where everyone knows that your family member is an alcoholic or a drug addict and you have tried and failed to take action to help them.
Wherever you are in this process, it is important to seek professional advice and guidance. It is also important for you to seek support so that you can remain emotionally resilient as you will need this when the time is right for your loved one to get help.
Recognising the signs of an addiction
If you are unsure whether your family member has an addiction it is important to be aware of the behavioural changes that someone displays which may mean that they have a drug or alcohol problem:
- Suspicious behaviour, such as sneaking out of the house at unusual times
- Money going missing, or the person asking to borrow money from family members
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- A lack of interest in everyday family activities
- Lack of interest in personal appearance
- Mood swings
- Physical symptoms of drug dependency or alcohol dependency
What can I do to help my family member?
It may well be the case that you have tried lots of things to help your family member to change, with varying degrees of success. The important thing to remember is that the change must come from within the addicted person in order for them to stop. The best thing you can do is to get on with your life and look after yourself, as hard as this may seem.
You may well have tried locking your son or daughter in a room or stopped your partner from accessing their money and they still cannot stop. This is because addiction is a complex condition that requires more than just willpower or removal of a substance to overcome. We urge that you seek advice from Rehab Healthcare before taking any further action, as it may be the case that you are doing more harm than good. We can help you to understand how addiction works and why your family member is behaving the way they are so that you feel empowered to help and support your loved one.
If your family member simply doesn’t want to stop, it may well be that an intervention is required.
If you have talked to your family member about their problematic alcohol or drug use and they say they want to stop, now is the time to act. By calling Rehab Healthcare and speaking to one of our advisors, we can help your loved one to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that they can be helped and overcome their problems. We have been there and knowing someone that has walked in your shoes can be uplifting and give that hope that an addict needs to make the first step. We can then signpost you to a service that will meet the needs of your loved one, whether that be your local drug and alcohol team, drug counselling or a private detox and rehabilitation clinic.
What support can I get?
As a family member of someone with an addiction, you probably feel lonely and helpless. It is important to know you are not alone. For the hundreds of thousands of alcoholics and addicts, there are many more family members who are going through the same emotional upheaval that you are going through. There are many things that you can do to help yourself, which in turn may help you to support and do the right thing for your loved one:
- Find a local support group, such as FamAnon or AlAnon
- 1-2-1 counselling
- Free Family Support help-line
- Blogs, Forums and Articles about Addiction
Even if it is just to let off steam, call Rehab HC and we can help to guide you through this process. We have helped hundreds of families going through the same thing as you. Your family member may not be ready for help, but by educating yourself you will be able to take positive action to help them make that vital first step in overcoming their addiction.