More than 20 million Americans experience Substance Use Disorder (SUD). It should come as no surprise, then, that nearly half of all people in the U.S. have a person close to them who struggles with substance use. The ripple effects of which extend far beyond the afflicted individual, profoundly impacting families and loved ones.
In this insightful article, we delve into the profound impact substance dependency can have on families. Our aim is to equip loved ones with the knowledge and understanding they need to navigate this difficult journey, offering a guiding hand through the complexities of supporting a family member with a substance use disorder. Furthermore, we provide a range of valuable resources for building a supportive network while striving to assist the recovery and well-being of their family members.
How Substance Use Affects Families
Every aspect of how a family unit operates can be negatively impacted when a loved one uses drugs or alcohol. That’s why addiction is often referred to as a family disease. When one person in the family is affected, regular routines, interpersonal communications, family roles and rituals, and financial stability can be affected as well.
The existence of parental SUD can lead to a family environment where secrecy becomes the norm. These families may become riddled with conflict and chaos and even incidences of violence and neglect. When teenagers or young adults have an SUD, parents often feel guilty and hopeless. Siblings may also feel neglected as the afflicted brother or sister becomes the center of the parent’s energies.
Regardless of how your family is affected by substance use, every member will need some kind of support.
Finding Family Support For Addiction
Finding family support for addiction from people who are also coping with similar issues can go a long way in helping you and the rest of your family. Peer-to-peer support groups offer opportunities to:
- Meet other people who are in the same situation as you are and who understand what you and your family are going through
- Interact with people who are further along in their healing journey and who can help guide you on your journey to recovery.
- Learn about resources to help your loved one with SUD
- Learn mechanisms to cope with the guilty and shame that come with having a parent, child, or sibling with dependence issues
- Provide compassion and support to others
Free support groups for those with family members experiencing SUD include:
- NAMI Family Support Group. The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers a support group for family members of anyone experiencing a mental illness, including SUD. NAMI’s free resource can be especially helpful for the family of those with a co-occurring mental illness.
- Al-Anon. Al-Anon offers support for families dealing with addiction. The organization provides a worldwide support network of recovery programs for those seeking to help a family member with alcoholism while learning how to heal from the collateral damage caused by a loved one’s dependence. The organization offers Alateen for adolescent members of families affected by alcoholism.
- Nar-Anon. Like Al-Anon, Nar-Anon is an addiction support network for family members of people dependent on drugs.
- Families Anonymous. Families Anonymous offers peer-to-peer family support for addiction recovery. It is a resource for parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, and other family members and friends of those with a current, suspected, or former substance problem.
- PAL. Parents of Addicted Loved Ones is a Christian non-profit organization founded to provide education and support to the parents of adult children dealing with substance use disorder.
- Loved One Support Groups. Some mental health and substance use treatment facilities offer free in-person and online support groups and family workshops for spouses, children, and other family members undergoing treatment.
Working With Professionals to Heal the Family
Along with peer-focused support and educational resources, family members often seek professional counseling and treatment for themselves and their loved ones battling SUD. These resources can include inpatient and outpatient services for each family member experiencing substance dependency, as well as professional counseling and support for the entire family.
How Retreat Family Can Help
Addiction is a family disease that impacts the person experiencing SUD and their closest loved ones. That’s why the compassionate professionals at Retreat Behavioral Health take a holistic approach to drug and alcohol use treatment.
We know that in order to support a loved one’s healing journey, the family members must also address their own feelings and behaviors surrounding the family trauma caused by dependence.
We offer resources for family members seeking community support and additional insight into substance use and mental health treatment for loved ones, as well as access to various free resources, including online support groups and more.