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Understanding Addiction as a Family Disease

Addiction is a complex disease that has profound effects on a user’s physical and mental health. For people struggling with a drug or alcohol misuse disorder, it is more than just a habit. Their desire to use their substance of abuse can be all-consuming. The cravings that push them to use more can be so intense that they feel powerless to resist. Eventually, the addict’s self-destructive behavior begins to affect the people who care about them most, which is why you’ll often hear people refer to addiction as a family disease.

How Does Addiction Play a Role in Your Family Dynamic?

If you’ve never fallen into the cycle of substance misuse, you may have the misconception that your son’s addiction has developed because of a character flaw or a lack of motivation to quit drinking or using. Instead of blaming yourself or wondering where you went wrong, understand the reality: addiction is a brain disease that can affect anyone. Codependency and enabling are common behaviors in families where a member is living with an active addiction. As the illness takes over, it erodes the addict’s self-control and often causes them to become manipulative, selfish and deceitful. The lies an addicted person will tell can increase in frequency that you might have trouble determining when they are being honest with you. Out of a misplaced desire to help and support your family member, you might do things such as buying him more drugs, telling yourself that you’re only doing this for a little while until you can convince him to get help. Over time, this unhealthy dynamic develops to a point where you resent your addicted loved one for prioritizing substance misuse over his relationship with you.

Addiction Can Make You Sick, Too

Since addiction can last months or years, these damaging behaviors can affect the relationships between every member of the family. All the effort put toward trying to help the sick individual involves starving other important responsibilities of attention. The stress that family members of addicts struggle with is another enormous burden. You might continually worry about where your son is, who he is spending time with and even whether he is alive and well. Long-term anxiety can take a severe toll on your physical and mental health. Living with high stress levels can cause elevated blood pressure and heart rate, both of which could increase your risk of heart disease or a stroke. Depression and mood disorders can evolve from dealing with a family member who is an addict, as well. Just as an addict has no ability to control his urges to drink or use drugs, you feel as if you can never take a day off from your worries.

You Can Get Help for Your Loved One

Since addiction removes all ability to control a person’s impulses, the healthiest thing you can do for you and your family is to learn when to say no to your son until he agrees to seek help. When you are ready to encourage your son to get treatment, Spearhead Lodge is here for you. As a premier extended-care facility for young adult men, we can provide the highest standards of care. Reach out to us to learn more.