Addiction is a family disease. When one person experiences a substance use disorder or addiction, all other family members will likely experience the consequences of the condition at some point. Although they may not experience addiction themselves, there are several unhealthy traits that come with addiction that may become normalized in the family unit.
On the other hand, once substance use or abuse becomes normalized within a family unit, the likelihood of other family members regularly using substances or experiencing addiction increases. Many families across the nation are struggling with addiction at any given moment. It is essential to actively work to prevent and break the cycles of addiction in your family so that it does not wreak havoc on your entire family unit and future generations.
Initiate Conversations About Substance Use Early
One of the best things you can do for your family to actively prevent addiction is to have conversations about substance use and addiction early. Parents and guardians are responsible for determining when their child is old enough to truly comprehend such subject matter; however, there are a few helpful ways to explain addiction to young children. For these situations, consider making connections with references that they may be able to understand at their age.
Try to avoid framing conversations out of fear. Fear-based discussions surrounding drug use only make matters worse for children and their parents. This is one of the many reasons that the DARE program failed. In turn, try to instill educational facts regarding substance use to your children, siblings, and other loved ones. Drug education must be scientifically accurate, honest, interactive, and compassionate.
Another crucial educational element in understanding addiction includes the risk factors associated with developing an addiction. There are biological factors, environmental factors, and personal drug factors that increase the risks associated with substance use and addiction.
By educating yourself and further educating your loved ones, you can begin to recognize the unconscious biases you may have about drug users or individuals who struggle with addiction. As you work to break the cycle of addiction in your family, you can do so with grace and compassion for those that struggle with it daily.
Focus On What You Can Control
As a parent, you want to shield your child from all of the dangers in this world. In doing so, it is essential to remember that even when it comes to addiction, you must keep your focus on what you can control.
While you work to reduce any risk factors associated with the development of addiction in your family, you can also work to instill protective factors into your family members’ lives. Protective factors help to lower the likelihood of negative outcomes, or in this case, lower the likelihood of addiction developing in the first place.
Protective factors may include:
- Having intimate parental involvement
- Attending after-school activities
- Having access to early intervention resources if exposed to alcohol or other substances
- Having access to resources to help resolve trauma and other mental distress as it surfaces
- Limiting the availability of substances for family members
- Having a positive self-image
- Having good conflict resolution skills
- Having strong social support
Parents can break the cycle of addiction in their families by consistently being involved in their children’s lives. If their children are spending time with the wrong peers, they can have conversations with their children about their concerns. Although they may not be able to change the people surrounding their children, they can encourage them to make sound decisions that prioritize optimal health and wellness. Children thrive when they have positive relationships with their parents, guardians, and other mentors that act as valuable role models in their lives.
Perpetuating the Cycle Through Addiction Treatment
Mental health and addiction treatment is an invaluable resource when these conditions begin to negatively affect a loved one’s life. Recognizing the power that addiction treatment can have on an individual’s life is critical. Choosing recovery is not an easy decision to make, but it is a game-changer when it comes to the future and health of your family unit.
Even if you grew up with parents or siblings that struggled with substance use disorders and addiction, you are in control of your own life and destiny. You can break the cycle of addiction in your family by actively working to make healthy choices for yourself and your loved ones.
If you find yourself in the beginning stages of addiction, seek intervention resources immediately. If not, your addiction will only worsen over time. You can seek help from mental health professionals that can offer you advice, support, and guidance even if you are still ambivalent about recovery. Take advantage of group therapy resources, creative expression, and other ways to build your support network in your community. You are never alone, even when addiction may make you feel like you are.
Addiction wreaks havoc on the family unit. It is vital to recognize the many ways you can strive to break the cycle of addiction in your family or prevent it before it ever starts. Intimate, educational conversations with family and loved ones surrounding substance use can be life-altering. Conversations should not be fear-based, but instead, scientifically accurate and compassionate. You can work to instill protective factors in your loved ones that can challenge the development of addiction. West Coast Recovery Centers believes that the cycle of addiction can be broken in your family if you actively work to do so. One of the most valuable resources that can help you break the cycle is through addiction treatment, even just psychoeducation. We can offer you an individualized treatment experience to help you overcome your addiction. To learn more about our treatment options or facility, give us a call today at (760) 492-6509.