Addiction is a family disease as much as it is an individual one. When one member is affected, it is not surprising that the immediate family, friends or guardians account for their roles in this affliction. The kind of family one has is irrelevant: familial support is emotional--despite the circumstances that keep its members apart. The dynamics of a healthy family is all about mutual understanding, respect, and patience.

The first step to recovery is identifying the support group that will carry a user through the grueling process. During the preliminary therapy session, a counselor will often refer to these questions to determine the individuals that can help through the rehabilitation.

  • Who are you close to?
  • Who do you consider as family or person/s you can run to when feeling down?
  • Who is important to you?
  • Who do you feel comfortable with when speaking about problems?

Characteristics of a family:

  • Nonsummativity - the present idea of family is based on practicality: people who are the most accessible and reliable who have the ability to think of the welfare of the group and not just the needs of the individual members.
  • Causality - a behavior and action can trigger a circular causality in one member and subsequently the other members. For therapy, this trait can be helpful because family members can re-adjust the user’s routine to normalcy. Substance abuse and behaviors can be enabled depending on how they affect one’s brain. Therefore having other individuals to be the model for regular routine can make recovery faster.
  • Communicative - verbal or non-verbal forms of expression emotion, conflict, and encouragement affect the user’s self-worth and identity throughout the rehabilitation course.
  • Homeostasis - a family’s need to have a self-regulating balance while one member is in a mental, physical, emotional. and psychological crisis.

Statistics for Underage Addiction

A family that grows up surrounded by too much alcohol and substances can eventually suffer dire consequences later in life if not at the present. Addiction can wreck a family’s quality of relationships, quality of life and, at any rate, a family’s sense of protection. Substance and alcohol compulsion do not happen overnight and through the years, statistics have proven that

In 2014, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health published a study on drug use patterns of teenagers in a span of 12 years. It showed that 30 percent of Americans from the ages of 12 onwards call themselves as “binge drinkers” while 10% are heavy drinkers. Binge drinking is defined by the consumption of 4 to 5 drinks in a span of 2 hours while heavy drinking refers to five or more alcoholic drinks in 5 or more days within a month. This number is growing increasingly since.

Substance use disorder affects 21.5 million Americans of ages 12 and above - with 2.6 million abusing both alcohol and illicit drugs. Two years after, an accompanying study shows 50 percent of teens admitting to misusing drugs (either prescription or illicit drugs) at least once. 33 percent of this number were able to get drugs on their own while 12 percent have at least one parent who is also afflicted with addiction.

Patterns of Addiction Can Be Close to Home

To understand addiction, it would be best to understand where it comes from. A person’s genes make up for a 40 to 60 percent chance of inheriting addictive tendencies more than psychological and environmental factors.

Having older and/or authority figures to guide younger family members on the precautions of taking addicting substances is educational and can be a preventive measure. A productive and nurturing home environment reduces the chances of turning to drugs whenever faced with problems, depressive moods, and instability.

In addition, the type of friends that individuals have and the community that they are raised in can have an impact on whether or not they end up being an addict. Struggling in school and social groups can lead to distractions--and addictions--if one is not careful. Causes of addiction are narrowed down from these circumstances: emotional, psychological and mental stress, desire to escape, curiosity, and peer pressure.

Symptoms of Addiction

A prime sign of addiction is withdrawal and this eventually leads to gravitating towards individuals with addictive profiles. Family and peers should be able to detect these signs of substance and alcohol use to prevent addiction’s long-term and permanent effects:

Occupational or Educational Indicators

  • Poor work performance
  • Decline of grades
  • Frequent absence in school or work
  • Neglect of work and school duties

Physical Health and Appearance Indicators

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Laughing with no reason
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Lack of eye contact

Behavioral Indicators

  • Sudden outbursts of anger, violence, or euphoria
  • Mood swings
  • Sudden withdrawal/isolation
  • Feelings of hopelessness

How Addiction Affects Family Ties

Alcohol and substance abuse affects families on different levels: there’s the psychological, emotional, mental, social and financial. The destructiveness of addiction leads to strained life circumstances depending on the person who is going through it. When addition happens to a parent, their parents, partners/spouses and children suffer from potential neglect that can lead to financial bankruptcy or even poverty. Teenagers with addiction can be deprived of a career, future, and happiness without any help.

The road to intervention is met with expected withdrawal behavior, denial, and confusion. Internal support has to be consistent all the way through that is a continued learning effort on behalf of another.

Family in Intervention

Oftentimes, despite the most earnest of intentions, families involved in addiction have nowhere to start. Conversations with an addicted loved one can open the prospect of intervention. Approaching the topic of addiction requires two goals: making the user see the relationship between the abuse and the consequences of such abuse to the problems in their lives, and persuading the user to undergo treatment.

Intervention is recommended to be done gently and in a less forceful way. It is important for users to be aware that the act of using excessive substances is not sensible, however, blaming and shaming them on the ordeal is also counterproductive. Recovering addicts should be reminded that they are not alone. Boosting their morale can be achieved through words of encouragement and giving emotional support when they need it. Motivation from close individuals is a big step towards accepting the need for correction and treatment.

Family Therapy encompasses part of an ideal treatment for those with addiction. It forges the opportunity to learn more about substances and how they damage a person’s mind and body function. Recovery is not as straightforward in most cases so coordinating and setting up meetings with counselors and licensed professionals help greatly, especially if communication is difficult between users and their support groups. Specialists often act as a mediator as well as:

  • Substance abuse counselors
  • School psychologists
  • Guidance counselors
  • Psychologists
  • Therapists
  • Spiritual leaders
  • Professional interventionists

Three different family member treatment interventions are available in different kinds of institutions all over the country:

  • Intervention programs that work directly with the addict’s family members
  • Combined programs for substance abuse users and their families
  • Programs with therapeutic assistance solely to families/peers affected by addiction

There will be plenty of distractions and resistance along the way to sobriety so disappointments and setbacks are to be expected. In these sessions, healthy strategies that help cope with the ups and downs of the trial will often be taught.