Addiction is a Family disease… do you know what that means? Being honest, when I first heard it, I thought it meant it was hereditary… you know- passed down in the family. If one person had it, chances were that someone else was going to have it too. Made total sense to me. Even though that is true, it is not what is meant by “It’s a family disease”.
Addiction not only affects the addict, addiction effects the entire family. It is an emotional roller coaster that no one asked to ride… not even the addict. Everyone in the family just happens upon it, holding on for dear life not knowing what to do… how they got there in the first place… and how in the world can one get off?
Moms, we do what our instincts tell us to do. We allow our child to live at home because of the fear “where will he go”? We feed them and take them shopping and try to get our normal kid back. Yet all the while we question where we went wrong and cringe at the thought of what he is doing under my roof. Sleep is interrupted, worried is an understatement and anxiety becomes worse than ever about all things big and small.
Dads- they get angry and try to control the situation. Making demands that are never met he becomes angry not only at the addict, but also himself. Over and over he tries but realizes he cannot “fix it” no matter what he does. He just cannot understand how he has failed his child- he feels defeated.
Siblings pull away from the family to avoid the tension. Often, they get angry at how their brother or sister treats their parents and even become jealous of how much attention he/she gets. With grown siblings, family members make hard decisions to leave them out of important events in hopes of avoiding any drama they might cause.
These families who live with this family disease- they all live with a big fat secret hanging over their heads daily. The demon of addiction always lurks in the shadows and you never know when he/she will “show his butt”. Honestly, it was always at the worst times… I know I have my fair share of “butt showing” times with my addict … and if you have a family member with an addiction (active or not) I am sure you have a story or two yourself.
They make us so angry!!! But what we need to remember – there is a sweet person inside of there who is hurting. Yes, they may choose to continue to take their drug of choice, but I firmly believe they do not what to be an addict. Deep down they are hurting- and each day they live in their addiction, they hurt a little more making it hard to break the vicious cycle.
It is our job as their loved ones to not hide the truth… it is not helping them. As much as we want to avoid them at all cost, we must find ways to show them we do love them. Sometimes, no matter how hard it is (and it is SO HARD) we have to get off that roller coaster without them… we have to let them go ride it alone, letting them know we will be here for them when they are ready for a change. We support them getting healthy. We want our family back.