Addiction does not discriminate. It can affect members of all socioeconomic groups and enthnicities and can occur in the wealthiest, most nurturing, most loving of families. For example, a compilation of data by National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, collected between 2009-2014 revealed that about one of eight kids or 8.7 million, lived with at least one parent with “substance use disorder”.
Many addicts are productive members of society, leading them to believe they do not have an issue. Addiction often hurts not only those suffering from the addiction but the members of their family as well.
So – How Can Addiction Happen in the Best Families?
Family history is the most dependable marker concerning alcohol or drug dependence, per the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Ongoing studies show that one element of substance addiction is genetic, rather than the consequences of familial environment.
Addiction is no longer considered a personal choice. Research has proven that substance addiction “runs in families”. Notice the statistics don’t delineate between rich and poor families, just families.
According to “Addictions and Recovery”: “Addiction is due 50 percent to genetic predisposition and 50 percent to poor coping skills.”
Well – How Can the Recovering Parent Learn Healthy Coping Skills?
Nowadays, addiction is not something that must be swept under the rug and guarded as the family secret. When the addicted parent is ready to quit using, the next step is to seek treatment, either in a rehab center or in group settings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
The first step in recovery is understanding that we control our actions and attitudes. This is the key to begin making healthy decisions. Letting go of old patterns that no longer serve our greater good, means we can start changing old behaviors. Instead of turning to alcohol and/or drugs, we take responsibility for our problems.
Remember – recovery from addiction is a lifetime process. Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself to go from addicted to sober immediately. Work your program and practice healthy coping skills.
Keep a Journal to express the emotions you were denied as a child. Putting problems on paper releases repressed feelings. Besides the catharsis of journal keeping, you may receive insights and answers to questions you haven’t even asked.
Divert when tempted to use. Get involved in something you like doing. Do it sober. Exercise, go to the movies, read the latest bestseller, bake cookies, get out among nature and draw pictures. Diversion will distract your mind from thoughts of your drug of choice.
Living Gratefully helps maintain sobriety. When you were using, you tended to blame other people for your problems. The newness of sobriety is like seeing with new eyes - colors seem brighter, people seem friendlier. Write a daily gratitude list in your journal.
How Can You Help a Family Member Struggling with Addiction?
You are not overreacting. If your family member has a substance use issue, you might be noticing it is affecting their work, health, relationships and finances. Living with an addict can be an exhausting and difficult time. It is best to seek professional help. This may mean staging an intervention and asking your family member to seek help. Intervening as soon as possible only increases your family members chances of recovery. At Changes Treatment and Recovery, we believe that recovery is possible for everyone.