I often work with families in the midst of crisis, reeling from the problems substance abuse has left and continued turmoil. Alcoholism effects mothers, fathers, children, and everyone around them. Imagine being the child of an alcoholic, going to school, unable to concentrate because you do not know the state of your parent when you return. Will they be in a good mood, will there be food, will you be beaten or neglected, will mom/dad be alive? How can a child focus at school with this on their mind? How can a child function at home in this environment? You can change the nouns child and school to woman/man and work. The thought is the same. Imagine a life where everyone is afraid and suffering.
Alcoholism is a family disease. Relatives of alcoholics often develop emotional or behavioral issues as a result of trying to cope with their life as it relates to that of an alcoholic. Forget enabling (although that term is important), think about how the relatives temperament, emotions, and behaviors are affected. Constant worry, fear, anger, sadness are common. Helping (enabling) the relative so that the effects of their alcoholism is minimized in the public can be taxing. The Alcoholic and family deserve help, they all deserve a better future.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence shares the following information to help families*:
"What Can Families Do ?
Learn About Alcohol, Drugs, Alcoholism and Addiction:
Our ability to cope with anything is a function of how much we know about what we are up against. Although you have been living with alcohol and/or drug problems for some time, learning about alcohol and drug addiction is a critical first step. You cannot rely on common sense or popular myths (preaching, complaining, acting like a martyr, dumping the alcohol or drugs). Getting the facts about how alcohol and drugs affect the individual and the family is very important (see “Learn About Alcohol” and “Learn About Drugs”).
Seek Help and Support For Yourself:
The disease of alcoholism and addiction is a family disease and affects everyone close to the person. Not only does the alcohol or drug user need help, so do you, even if you don’t realize it at the time. You and other family members need and deserve appropriate education, help and support in finding healthy ways to overcome the negative effects of the disease. Education, counseling and Mutual Aid/Support Groups can help you realize that you are not alone, that you are not responsible for the drinking or drug use and that you need to take care of yourself, regardless of whether the person you are concerned about chooses to get help.
NCADD Affiliates offer a range of services including help for individuals and family members. If you are concerned about your own alcohol or other drug use or that of someone you care about—a child or other relative, a friend or co-worker—please make the contact. You will be able to speak to someone who will listen, assess your needs and provide information about available services, costs and how to deal with another person’s alcohol and/or drug use. Help is just a call or visit away—Make the contact now!
Learn What You Can Do To Help:
Treatment programs, counseling, mutual aid/support groups are all options for getting help. Only the person using alcohol and drugs can make the decision to get help, but you can help create the conditions to make that decision more attractive. Seeking help and support on your own can encourage interest in treatment or self-help. Look into treatment options and costs together and express your belief that treatment will work.
If Needed, Consider Family Intervention:
If the person you are concerned about is unable or unwilling to seek help, you should consider a planned, professionally directed intervention. Intervention, with support of a trained and experienced interventionist, is a powerful tool for the family to receive education, guidance and support, with a focus on getting the person to accept treatment.
Be Patient With The Recovery Process:
As with all chronic illnesses, everyone needs time to recover and regain health. For both the individual and family member, there may be relapses or breaks in treatment. Old tensions and resentments may flare up occasionally. Learn from these events and stay focused on recovery.
Hope For Long-Term Recovery:
While addiction to alcohol and drugs has no known cure, the disease can be stopped once the individual abstains from alcohol and other addictive drugs. Today, there are millions of Americans living life in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. And, millions more family members and children of addiction have also found recovery!"
I often tell my clients and families to get ready to meet a new person. The alcohol created a person with feelings, behaviors, and a personality with whom they became accustomed. As much as we want the person to stop drinking, we must also prepare to meet the person that is now walking in the light of life and sees people, places, and situations differently as well. In addition to the resolution of old wounds, discovery begins.
At Momentum Behavioral Health Concepts, we help the whole person as they embark on the journey to restore and discover life once more.
Be well, be informed, find your momentum....
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence www.ncadd.org
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