Addiction & The Family

Addiction Hurts Families

Adult | Children | Family | Prevention | Recovery | Teen | Women | Resources

Drug abuse and alcoholism lay waste to addicts' lives. More tragic still, the resulting chaos typically extends well beyond the user to virtually everyone in their circle of family and friends. While specific side effects vary, some form of relational devastation almost always accompanies addiction. In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the breakdown in drug-abusing families falls into six general categories (adapted below): 

1. Negativity
When addiction is at play, family members and friends often complain and criticize their addicted loved one. As a result, the prevailing household mood suffers as does the addict's attempts to get clean. Feeling judged and paranoid, he or she may use the situation as an excuse to escape, either physically or through continued substance abuse. Thus, negativity actually fuels substance abuse. 

2. Parental Denial
All too often, in a desire to believe only the best about their child, parents ignore obvious warning signs. Initially, they may ask, "What drug/alcohol problem?" We don't see any drug problem!" Then, after authorities intervene, they insist, "You are wrong! My child does not have a drug problem!"

3. Parental Inconsistency
In many cases, rule-setting is erratic. Enforcement is inconsistent. Family structure is inadequate. Children grow confused because they struggle to understand boundaries. They may even exhibit bad behavior to subconsciously encourage their parents to set rules. Without discernable limits, kids are unable to predict parental responses and accordingly adjust their behavior. Inconsistencies appear regardless of whether the person abusing substances is a parent or child. 

4. Miscarried Expression of Anger
Living in an emotionally deprived home leads to aggressive behavior associated with drug abuse. In many cases, people use as a way to manage repressed anger.

5. Self Medication
Either a parent or child will use drugs or alcohol to cope with intolerable thoughts or feelings, such as severe anxiety or depression.

6. Unrealistic Parental Expectations
Unrealistic parental expectations leave children with the belief they can excuse themselves from future expectations by saying, "You can't expect anything of me -- I'm just a pothead/speed freak/junkie." Alternatively, children in this situation may work obsessively to overachieve, all the while feeling that they will never measure up, no matter what they do. Another reaction might be to joke around to deflect pain or to withdraw from life out of a fear of rejection. Apart from meaningful adult intervention, in the form of healthy, positive, support, children tend to conform their behavior to their parents' low expectations.  

Whole Family Treatment

MFI Recovery Center offers a family systems approach, treating the whole family to re-establish trust and mutual respect where it may have been damaged by substance use. It's almost impossible for someone who is struggling with substance abuse to recover alone. So, our program helps individuals rebuild the close connections essential to successful recovery. 

Children in unstable homes run a greater risk for emotional problems and addiction than other children, often displaying risk-taking behavior, school failure, aggression, anxiety, depression and relationship problems. MFI offers parenting classes aimed to help families with children of alcoholics and addicts through recovery. Parents beginning the lifelong journey of recovery take advantage of outstanding opportunities to change the paradigm at home. Developing valuable communication and coping skills helps clients recover, while simultaneously placing their family members on a healthy, stable, path to sobriety.

About MFI
Throughout 10 facilities in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, we employ the Matrix Model, creating a personalized treatment program for each client. Various modalities can include behavior modification, 12-Step program introduction, cognitive behavioral therapy, and family systems techniques, including the family in group therapy. Treatment options include outpatient and inpatient detox, medication management (if appropriate), group therapy, individual therapy, relapse prevention education, and ongoing support after treatment. To find out more, call (866) 218-4697, or for non-admission related information, contact us at (951) 683-6596. 

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