In this article, we are going to discuss that addiction is not a disease of a single person, it’s a family disease. People especially family thinks that it’s the person’s fault and choice to use and quit drugs. A person can quit, whenever he wants to quit. The family of the addict thinks about addiction as a defect of character. They use certain ineffective behaviors to change the person which results in the progression of the addiction. In my opinion, they always become a part of the problem instead of the solutions.
It’s very important for all of us to understand that addiction is not a defect of the character of the person, it’s a brain disease. It badly affects the chemistry and structure of the brain. It’s a disease like other illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. The person is helpless in front of his disease and cannot deal with his problem without taking proper medical and psychological help. It’s a primary, choric, progressive, and fatal disease. It badly affects the physical, mental and social areas of the addicted person. In treatment, he needs to regain his physical, mental and social health.
It’s important to understand that addiction is not the disease of a single person. Addiction is a family disease; it also affects the physical and mental health of the family. First of all the family needs to overcome on their grief, pain and shame related to the addiction. When they heal their pain and are in peace, they would be better able to help their loved-ones in addiction. The family needs to change their beliefs and paradigm about the addict. They need to accept that it’s a disease, not a defect of character.
When they shift their paradigm, they can provide the maximum support and help to the addict to manage his disease.
There are certain behaviors and attitudes of the addict family which plays a significant and indirect role in the progression of the disease. These behaviors are called Enabling & Provoking.
The Enabling behaviors include:
- Making excuses for problems caused by drinking or drug use.
- Pretending to accept the addict’s excuses simply to avoid conflict.
- Seeking advice from friends and counselors, then failing to follow through with it.
- Protecting the addict from potential crises associated with drug use such as:
- Taking care of him or her physically.
- Bailing him or her out of legal or financial problems.
- Allowing him or her to move into home when drinking or drug use has created a crisis elsewhere.
- Hiding alcohol or drug involvement from employers or other authority figures.
- Providing financial or other support so that the addict doesn’t have to shoulder the normal responsibilities of adulthood.
Provoking behaviors directly encourages drinking or drug use by an addict. It includes:
- Nagging, throwing out alcohol or drugs, picking useless arguments about alcohol or drug use.
- Allowing yourself to believe in the promises the addict makes, then getting angry when you discover he or she doesn’t keep them.
- Punishing the addict for drug use like withholding money, affection etc, rather than addressing the underlying issue of addiction.
- Manipulating others against the alcoholic or addict so as to isolate him or her and create a state of “War” within family.
- Precipitating the argument when the addict is intoxicated, bringing on a conflict that results in actual abuse or in more drug use.
- Drinking with an alcoholic. Using drugs with an addict.
So when the family takes professional help, they would better be able to manage the disease of addiction and can save the life of their loved ones. They need to identify their behaviors related to enabling and provoking and try to replace them with some effective behaviors. When they work on their emotions, grief, impulsivity, pain and shame, they can bring desirable change in their loved one.