A family dis-ease
Addiction (especially substance abuse) is a massive wrecking ball to families that shatters all trust and leaves members feeling lost, alone, and hopeless. Make no mistake, addiction is a disease, and a progressive illness that has no cure. Drugs and alcohol high-jack vital parts of the brain and rewires essential decision making components. For anyone who has not experienced the total powerlessness of addiction, it is a hard thing to understand, but addiction is a disease without a cure.
Once drugs and alcohol have taken over a brain and body, there is no turning back. It may sound like a hopeless statement, but recovery is always possible, and there is hope for those who seek help. Addiction takes over the nervous system to the point that "craving" becomes a lifelong issue.
What is craving?
Craving is the physical sensation and urge to drink or use again. When drugs and alcohol take over the nervous system, the brain and body start to believe that the substance is essential to life. In other words, the brain and body misinterpret substances to the point that they become as important, if not more important, than food, water, and oxygen.
Families who witness this total take over agonize over the powerlessness they feel to help the family member who is struggling. They attempt to control the addiction in every possible way, much like the addicted person tries to control their addiction prior to recovery. But it's a losing battle, until there is admission of powerlessness, surrender, and daily recovery action.
What to do
What not to do
Sometimes it's hard to take the first step and get help. It can feel embarrassing to admit there is a problem. And a lot of couples and families spend a lot of energy trying to change the person struggling, to no avail. Addiction is a unique illness, and denial allows the illness to progress. It's best to seek help as soon as possible. Many find great support in self help meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, but it can be helpful to work with a professional who can help in areas that a sponsor or mentor cannot.
Self help meetings
Self help for loved ones