One of the WordPress sites I follow is written by a girl with an Eating Disorder. She recently shared that her weight is down to 74 pounds – she is five feet and five inches tall. She is eating only a half of a bagel a day, and passing out every morning. It is hard to read about someone who is suffering from a deadly disease. It makes me sad, because it makes me realize what my family must have gone through with me. Like this girl, I got to the point where I would not accept any help.
But what if you know someone who is suffering from addiction, and is not too far gone to get help? In that case, you have a chance to be helpful. Speaking to your loved one, is very difficult, but it can be done with tact and compassion. Realize that there is no such thing as perfect timing. But, it is best to intervene on a their behalf as soon as possible, after the addiction is discovered.
What do I say?
Let the person know about your feelings of concern, but be honest enough to say that the addiction has been found out. This is the point when you should expect some denial. The loved one doesn’t normally want to admit to the behavior because the resulting feelings of shame and embarrassment are more than they can handle. Also, your loved one, is not going to want to take responsibility for their actions. It likely that the individual is going to get angry and refuse to go for help. You might need to make a decision on their behalf.
In the meantime your can learn more about family support groups. There are many choices to pick from. Don’t blow this off! Family education groups provide information about the nature of a substance use disorder; its effects on the loved one, the family, and others; the nature of relapse and recovery; and family dynamics. These groups often motivate families to become more involved in treatment.
Family education groups often cover these topics:
Medical aspects of addiction and dependence
Relapse and relapse prevention
Addiction as a family disease
Subconscious refusal to admit that the client has a substance use disorder (i.e., denial)
Reasons for testing and monitoring of the client
Leisure time planning
Community support groups and resources
Group members listen to lectures and discuss topics.
A helpful reference is Family Therapy: An Overview (Goldenberg and Goldenberg 1985). This book presents a comparison of six theoretical models of family therapy, including the psychodynamic, experiential/humanistic, structural, communication, and behavioral models. Meyers and colleagues (2003) offer an overview of community reinforcement and family therapy (CRAFT) that emphasizes the approach’s empirical support. Using concerned family members and friends, CRAFT works to bring those who deny they have a substance use disorder into treatment.
Films for the Humanities and Sciences (www.films.com). This organization offers 150 educational films on substance abuse, covering topics such as treatment issues and the effects of addiction on family members and including a series on young adults and substance abuse.
Hazelden Foundation (www.hazeldenbookplace.org). Hazelden Bookplace is an online resource center and marketplace for products and services from Hazelden Publishing & Educational Services and provides resources to help individuals, families, and communities prevent and recover from substance use and related disorders.
National Families in Action (NFIA) (www.nationalfamilies.org). NFIA is a national drug education, prevention, and policy center with the mission of helping families prevent substance abuse among children by promoting science-based policies. NFIA offers books, pamphlets, and afterschool programs to keep young people substance free. NFIA has collaborated with other organizations on several projects, including Allied Systems Strengthening Families Project and the Drug-Free America Foundation.
NIMCO, Inc. (www.nimcoinc.com). This organization offers videos on alcohol, tobacco, and drug education and prevention topics. Videos cover such issues as drinking and driving, steroid use, substance abuse in the workplace, and the effects of substance abuse on the mind and body.
Pyramid Media (www.pyramidmedia.com). This company offers films and videos about substance abuse that are appropriate for training, educational groups, and individual and family viewing.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) (www.ncadi.samhsa.gov). NCADI is a national resource center funded by the Federal Government that offers a large inventory of publications and videos for treatment professionals, clients, families, and the general public, including Alcoholism Tends To Run in Families. This fact sheet presents important information about the influence of parental alcoholism on children and families. It considers evidence that links alcoholism to dysfunctional marital relationships, child abuse, depression, physical problems, and impaired school performances, among other undesirable effects.
Moyers on Addiction: Close to Home (www.pbs.org/wnet/closetohome). This is the online companion to the PBS show. It features real-life stories of struggles with addiction, information on treatment and prevention, and downloadable resources such as family guides, viewer’s guides, teacher’s guides, and health professional’s guides to the PBS series.
Family Support Groups
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) (www.adultchildren.org). ACOA is a 12-Step, 12-Tradition program that offers support for grown children of parents with alcohol or drug addiction.
Al-Anon family groups (www.al-anon.org). Al-Anon is a fellowship of relatives and friends of people who have alcohol problems who share their experiences, strengths, and hopes. Members believe that alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery. The program is based on the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Families Anonymous (FA) (www.familiesanonymous.org). FA is a 12-Step, mutual-help, recovery support group for relatives and friends of those who have alcohol, drug, or behavioral problems. FA pamphlets, booklets, newsletters, and daily inspirational thought book are written by the members.
Nar-Anon family groups (www.naranon.com). Similar to Al-Anon, Nar-Anon is a fellowship of relatives and friends of people who abuse substances and offers a constructive program for members to achieve peace of mind and to gain hope for the future. Contact information is available in local telephone directories.
National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (www.napafasa.org). This nonprofit organization is dedicated to addressing the alcohol, tobacco, and drug issues of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) populations in the continental United States, Hawaii, and the six Pacific Island jurisdictions, as well as elsewhere. Its nationwide network consists of approximately 200 API and human service organizations, and its Web site lists resources, services for public and professional audiences, and current activities.