When a person has a drug addiction problem or any other kind of addiction, it is extremely difficult for that person to climb up out of that rut all by themselves. In almost all cases professional help is required, as well as significant help from family and/or friends, and this kind of support starts with the recognition that the addiction is not a crime or character flaw in the person, but a disease that must be treated.
With that understanding, an addict’s support group must then realize that in order to truly support their afflicted friend or family member, their own behaviors must change so as to create an environment conducive to recovery. It isn’t enough to just ‘be there’ for the addict – real support involves understanding that addiction is a disease which requires proper treatment and recovery, just like any other disease.
Types of Addiction
Drug and alcohol addiction might be the very first kinds of dependency that anyone thinks of, but they are certainly not the only ones. Gambling is another addiction recognized by the medical community as most closely resembling drug addiction because of the behavioral issues associated with it. Sex addiction is characterized by loss of self-control and disregard for consequences and risks, and other behaviors like internet addiction, video game addiction, and cellphone addiction may not make the Substance Abuse Top 10, but definitely exhibit some of the same behavioral characteristics of addiction.
How Addiction Impacts the Family
In some cases, families can literally be torn apart by one member who has become an addict, although this is the most extreme impact, and less dramatic results occur more often. Negtivism occurs when the general mood of the family is down, and characterized by criticism, bickering and complaints. Parents can have a major impact, if they are inconsistent and do not maintain family structure, which may promote poor behavior from the addict because no boundaries are in effect.
Parents can also be a bad influence when they refuse to acknowledge the existence of the problem, or worse yet, try to cover it up to save face themselves. When parents have unrealistic expectations of the addicted family member, it can encourage even worse behavior, because the addict feels completely inadequate to achieving the lofty goals prescribed. The reverse of that can be just as harmful though – if parents expect too little from the addict, then that family member may not put forth any real effort into achieving goals which might lead to freedom from addiction.
Apart from the support provided by family members, professional help is almost always needed to help an addict recover from dependency. At the very outset, it may be necessary to involve an interventionist, who attempts to make it clear to the dependent person that an addiction is present and formal treatment is required.
The process of gradual breaking away from an addiction must usually be managed by professionals, to minimize the physical discomforts of withdrawing from the substance or behavior. There is also a psychological component to the recovery process, and this involves helping the addict to understand the nature of dependency and providing the skills necessary to overcome that dependency. Rehab centers are the ideal venues for this kind of recovery to take place, because the environment is that of a recovery atmosphere, and because they are staffed with well qualified and experienced addiction personnel.