Addiction can be difficult for family members to understand. Seeing your loved one behave differently is confusing and frightening, and you undoubtably want answers. We’ve put together some key facts for families of addicts. We hope that this will serve as a guide for you as your loved one finds treatment and recovery. If you have any questions not answered here, please reach out to our admissions team at 855.935.2871.
Fact 1: Addiction is a Disease
For hundreds of years, addiction has been heavily stigmatized. Families may have believed that their loved one’s drinking or drug use was a moral failing. This is a problematic viewpoint, because in reality, addiction is a pattern of compulsive substance use that changes the brain. This means that it is a condition as real (and treatable) as other chronic conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes.
Fact 2: Addiction Won’t Just Go Away
Information helps many families to feel empowered. We want you to know that your loved one didn’t begin drinking or using with the goal of becoming addicted. Rather, this is a natural result of ongoing substance use. Addiction is a progressive disease, meaning that it gets worse over time if left untreated.
A key factor in this process is tolerance. Over time, your loved one’s body will adjust to their drinking or drug use. This means that they will require more of that substance in order to feel the same effects. As their body continues to adapt to higher dosages or amounts, they may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal happens once the body has gotten used to a certain amount of a drug at any given time. When a person doesn’t drink or use drugs, their brain’s chemistry is thrown out of that new equilibrium. This means that your loved one may feel like they need to drink or use drugs just to feel “normal” and not get sick.
Fact 3: They Shouldn’t Quit Cold Turkey
Many families believe that it is possible to just stop using drugs and alcohol altogether. This “cold turkey” approach is damaging for a few reasons. First, it is unlikely to result in lasting sobriety. While professional addiction treatment addresses the factors driving substance use, such as physical and mental health or one’s environment, quitting at home does not. Without a rigorous personal inventory and deep inner work, your loved one is more likely to relapse within a short amount of time.
Additionally, sudden cessation of drug or alcohol use can be life-threatening. Without medically managed detox, it is possible for your loved one to experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, seizures, delirium tremens, and more. In an inpatient environment, clinical specialists can supply medications and therapies that make detox a safe, comfortable experience.
Fact 4: You Shouldn’t Wait for Rock Bottom
Many families hesitate to seek treatment for their loved one because they’ve heard the old sayings about “rock bottom.” Specifically, the myth says that you should wait to seek help, only intervening once your loved one has hit their lowest point. This is a damaging narrative that only results in unnecessary pain and a more difficult path to recovery.
Evidence has shown time and time again that early intervention leads to improved outcomes. If you suspect that your loved one has begun misusing drugs or alcohol, consider confronting them in a loving, helpful way before things get worse. At Beach House, our admissions staff can help you to design a treatment plan tailored for their needs, ensuring a smooth, enjoyable path back to your family’s daily life.
Fact 5: Addiction is a Family Disease
Addiction affects everyone, not just the person using drugs or alcohol. This means that while your parent, child, or sibling is in treatment, each of their families should enter into recovery, too. Educational programs, such as Beach House’s Family Program, can provide important information about living with the addict after treatment has concluded. Individual therapy and group meetings like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon can be helpful in the process of recovering from a loved one’s substance abuse.
Your Partner in Recovery
At Beach House, we know that addiction is a confusing and overwhelming event in the lives of many families. You may be feeling scared or at a loss. We are here to help you navigate the process of finding treatment and recovery for your loved one. Contact our compassionate admissions staff for more information about assessment, treatment, intervention, and recovery. We’re here for you every step of the way.