July 19, 2018 Felicia Durling

Addiction as a Family Disease

Addiction is easy to blame on the addict. After all, he or she is the one that picked up this horrible habit in the first place, right? Loving homes have been provided. Endless attempts for help have been offered. Boundaries have been set, lines have been crossed, and too many tears have been cried over a seemingly unstoppable storm raging through what was once a happy home. Yet, somehow hope always returns.


Addiction as a Family Disease

Watching a family member change under the influence of substance abuse is painful. The addict isn’t acting like his or her old self and that can be scary and frustrating. Addiction changes the very fabric of who people are by rewiring the parts of the brain that determine identity and personality. It’s important that family members understand that their loved one isn’t deliberately betraying their trust. He or she is struggling with very physical demands and cravings that change behavior in unfortunate ways.

Little fault can be assigned when addiction has become prevalent in the family home. Everyone is stressed and struggling, each family member dealing with the addiction in his or her own way. At some point, the substance in question has become the household authority and, though not everyone is using, everyone is subject to the rules and consequences. Whether or not we like to admit it, addiction affects everyone.

Is this to say the family is to blame? Of course not. Families do the very best they can to help their loved one. Sometimes that can mean harmful but well-intentioned enabling, or indirectly supporting someone’s addiction for the sake of not wanting them to suffer. Other times attempts to help can mean strict rules and regulations in the home, often with harsh consequences that can create arguments and discomfort. Addiction is bewildering, hurtful, and frightening.

Addiction as a family disease means that, in addition to sharing in the hardships and suffering, when an addict chooses to get appropriate treatment and healing, everyone heals as well. Like a storm passing over, not just one person is saved from the rain, but everyone under the clouds. Together, as a family, a new life can be created through the transformative power of recovery. Treating addiction is more than putting down a substance for good. True healing involves picking up a whole new set of tools for building the life that the family always knew was possible.


The Center for Life Change proudly offers family therapy programs and group counseling for those who are supporting someone in recovery.

Healing happens here.

For more information call 951-775-4000 for more information.

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