I am NOT the problem! Our family is NOT the problem, they are the one who is actively bringing addiction into this family!
They Are the Active Substance User. It’s Not My Problem, Right?
A problematic belief system that we, as care advocates commonly see, is that many families do not believe they need to change and that the problem rests exclusively with their addicted loved one. They invest in the scenario that if the family member with the “problem” would just get “back to normal,” then everything will be fine. This is a detrimental way to view substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder.
You may be thinking, “hold on, are you saying I am the one to blame for my loved one’s problem?” I get it; I really do. You did not cause your loved one’s addiction and you can’t take full control over the problem. But there are ways in which family can unknowingly contribute to the dysfunction.
Your Role When You Are Not the Active Substance User
When someone you love is suffering from a substance use disorder, it can lead to many different feelings and emotions to arise. As a family, you have needed to allocate certain roles and responsibilities, and collectively make decisions on how to respond to your loved one and “their” disease to keep the system intact.
For example, if the parent is the one suffering from a use disorder, this can alter the roles children perceive for themselves within the family unit. The oldest child may take more responsibility and control over family decision-making, leaving the younger siblings to feel less responsible and potentially inadequate. Change involving one member of the family system leads to change in the system as a whole.
Understand How Addiction Impacts the Whole Family
The ultimate goal is for your loved one to get the treatment they deserve; to find a path to freedom from their disease. This can also be a beneficial time for the family to speak with a professional who can help them understand how addiction impacts the family as a whole, and what steps can be taken to begin healing in the family system.
Addiction and recovery can be compared to the stages of grief:
Recovery involves learning, growth, and healing. It is a process by which your loved one will learn and practice new patterns of living. They can develop awareness and build the skills they need to live a life free from addiction. Being in recovery means that a person is participating in life activities that are healthy, meaningful, and fulfilling for them.
Amanda Pitts, LADC1, Executive Director
Amanda Pitts is the Executive Director of the Coleman Network. Amanda is an experienced Licensed Alcohol Drug Counselor (LADC1) with a demonstrated 16-year history in Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment. Amanda holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston in Applied Sociology with a concentration in Forensic Services. She has a National Certification in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and is a trained facilitator in Nurturing Recovery Programs.