There may be nothing more stressful than living with an addicted family member. It doesn’t matter what drug they are addicted to. While the drugs they use may be different from family to family, their behaviors are very similar. When you live with a family member who abuses drugs, and things are at their worst, you have to remind yourself you’re not alone. No one chooses to be an addict. You also need to realize it’s going to take more than wishful thinking to help you and your drug-addicted family member. But you can find a solution that works.
How Widespread is Drug Addiction?
Statistics on drug abuse in the United States are staggering. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 17 million adults are suffering from alcoholism. Almost 15 million people abuse marijuana, while almost 3 million people have a cocaine addiction. Methamphetamines and Ecstasy have over 1 million addicts, and over 7 million people are suffer with prescription drug addictions. Drug abuse continues to grow in the United States. With that growth comes more family members being impacted by drug abuse.
How Do You Deal with an Addicted Family Member?
You’re never able to make a deal with an addicted family member. Addicted family members don’t deal back even if you try. The addicted family member will take advantage of almost any type of comfort or positive reinforcement you give them. As they continue to take advantage of every offer you give them, you find yourself becoming an enabler. You want to believe them every time they tell you they’ll quit using drugs and that this time it will be different.
It will never work until your addicted family member gets help. You also need to seek help through support groups with other families who have had a similar experience. Drug interventionists call denial being part of the drug abuse cycle. Being part of a drug abuse cycle means you may not be addicted to drugs, but because a family member is, you’re in the drug abuse cycle with them. You stay impacted by their drug abuse unless you and your family member seek a drug intervention, so you can both follow a new path.
Families Who Rationalize Not Seeking Help for Their Drug-Addicted Family Member
Most of the time, families go from crisis to crisis when they have a family member who suffers from drug addiction. Families have no idea what to do or where to go when this happens. Families often end up in an endless holding pattern where the drug-addicted family member promises to quit using drugs. The family member wants to believe this time it will be different, but they often watch their family member go right back to using again.
One fear that holds a family member hostage to inaction is that they see the impact the family member’s drug addiction has on them. It’s the belief that making no decision and hoping things will improve is better than making the wrong decision. Unfortunately, by not doing anything and believing that your family member can and will seek treatment in most cases is not a realistic possibility.
Finding Out Addiction is Controlling Your Family Member’s Life
You may tell yourself you’re not codependent or enabling your drug-addicted family member. If you have taken on the role of the caretaker by paying a bill, so they don’t lose their apartment, electricity or something else, you’ve become a caretaker. You’ve taken on the role of a caretaker if you’ve made excuses for their boss, so they don’t lose their job when they don’t go to work. You’re a caretaker if you’ve picked them up when they were too high or drunk to get home. Sometimes it’s as hard to break a codependent relationship, as it is being addicted. But it can be done.
How Do You Break a Codependent Familial Relationship?
When you’re deep into a codependent addiction within a familial relationship, there are many times you fear what will happen if things change between you and the addicted family member. Change is never comfortable, but it is necessary in this case. You need to understand if things remain the same; things will change anyway. But it won’t be a change you planned or prepared for. An unplanned change happens when your drug-addicted family member has a run-in with the law, overdoses, or run out of places to go.
It takes a lot of courage to ask for help if you suffer from addiction or if you’re a family member of an addict. There are places you can go to help you learn healthy tools in a step-by-step process for dealing with your drug-addicted family member. Success rates of addiction treatment are only as successful as the addicted person makes it.
Rehabilitation and recovery programs are the best chances a drug-addicted person has at recovery. Going through a rehabilitation process as a patient or a family member of a patient helps both of you. You learn about the new dynamics needed for successful family healing.
What’s Your Next Step?
Family members of drug-addicted people can’t wait until things get better tomorrow. But sometimes, when you’re dealing with addiction, tomorrow never comes. By learning how to stop being codependent with an addicted family member, you start forging a new path forward. By staying on this new path, you find a way to live your life in a healthy and fulfilling manner.
Break the cycle of the drug addiction’s impact on your family. Find a treatment program that works for you, no matter what your drug-addicted family member decides to do. Your future path doesn’t depend on what path your family member is on. It only depends on what path you’re on. That path certainly needs to be free of drugs and their impact on your life. Once you’re on that path, you’ll find out just how strong and able you really are. You’ll find the life you’ve always deserved.