Understanding how addiction affects both the addicted person and the family is an essential foundation for lasting recovery. Addiction is commonly seen as a family disease because it stresses the family to the breaking point, impacting the stability of the home, mental health, finances, and overall family dynamics and unity.
In her book, Co-dependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself, author Melody Beattie describes codependency as “a pattern of detrimental, behavioral interactions within a dysfunctional relationship.” When family members take the addict’s behavior personally and become obsessed with controlling them, codependency is at play.
Another damaging behavior by family members that can thwart an addict’s recovery is enabling. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America describes enabling as “behaviors by family members that allow people with substance use problems to avoid the negative consequences of their actions.” Paying bills, making excuses or simply remaining silent are all enabling behaviors.
Just as the addict needs treatment for substance abuse, the family needs treatment for their own addictive behaviors. An invaluable resource are 12-step support groups like Al-Anon. These meetings provide friends and family emotional support and the tools to stay out of the destructive cycle of enabling and codependency. To that end, Breathe Life Healing Center offers the Breathe Family Class (TM) and the five-day Family Week as a key component to every client’s recovery program.
Addiction is a family disease, and seeking help for the entire family greatly improves the chance of lasting recovery for all.