Addiction is sometimes called a “family disease” however, many people will argue this by saying “I am not the one with the substance abuse problem.” Addiction affects those closest to the addict, most of the time, the family and friends. Family functions, happiness, and love are replaced by an obsession to stop the destructive behavior of the addict. Often resentment is fueled by an “enabler” who repeatedly attempts to fix the problem themselves, using the same consequences that are effective with non-addicted children. After trying many times to help the teen overcome their addiction, and years spent to stop the addict from taking drugs, the failed cycle remains in place and family dynamics change. Living with a teen who is an addict can cause severe trauma to everyone in the home.
Stress brought on by worrying about the person with the addiction to drugs or alcohol can often show itself through physical ailments, headaches, colds, chest pains, high blood pressure, behavioral changes and more. Because as parents, we are so busy worrying about others, that we stop taking take care of ourselves. Siblings often feel excluded and unimportant, which can cause the brother or sister to act out creating more issues and making parents feel the need to choose between the child and addiction. Hardships and stress become normal in a family who lives with someone addicted to drugs or alcohol. The family begins to argue more and resentment occurs. The whole family feels anger, sadness, depression, fear, loneliness, jealousy, and failure. The family has to start hiding valuables, purses, wallets, and lock doors at night. Friendships are lost, relationships are damaged, health is poor and the home is a war zone. It can make everyone feel helpless.
Some people consider co-dependence a disease itself. The Webster dictionary defines co-dependence as “a psychological condition or relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as in an addiction to alcohol or heroin); broadly: dependence on the needs of or control by another.”
Parents and siblings are manipulated by the teenage addict, who will say and do anything to continue their drug usage. As parents, we want to believe the best of our addicted teens, and we want to believe them when they say they will not do it anymore. What we fail to understand is the strength of the disease of addiction. When we choose to believe them, only to be let down once again, as parents, we take it personally. We ask ourselves “how could my son or daughter lie to me again?” Education on addiction is very important to our own recovery, as well as theirs. Once our attempts to stop our child from being addicted to drugs or alcohol are in vain, we can then begin to utilize different strategies in dealing with our addicted children. We can allow our teenagers to feel the consequences and results of their behavior. Once we have found a suitable rehabilitation program, best suited for teenagers, the healing can begin.
You can begin to take care of yourself by reaching out to other parents with similar experiences. As you build friendships and begin to feel supported, it becomes easier to make difficult decisions and we learn new ways to cope with the reality of addiction.
If your son or daughter, or a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, we can help you find a teen-centered drug addiction facility. Give us a call for more information today.