Addiction is a Family Illness | How Families Can Help
Addiction is a family illness. Families suffer when someone they love descends into the purgatory of addiction. But I take issue with historical confrontational interventions and outdated confrontative “rehab oriented” mandates that families should cut off contact with addicts and allow them to reach “rock-bottom” before they can begin recovery.
Loved ones must compassionately and cautiously recognize that the “rock bottom” in problems of addiction frequently leads to death and destruction in many forms.
It is a dangerous, though popular, misconception that a person that is ill with addiction can only quit using and start to get well when the individual ‘hits bottom,’ that is, reaches a point at which he is desperate enough to willingly accept help.
Rather than coercively abandoning loved ones with old intervention methods that demand abandonment, I urge families to remain engaged, to keep open the lines of communication and regularly remind the addict of their love and willingness to help if and when help is wanted. families must also set firm boundaries — no money, no car, nothing that can be quickly converted into the substance of abuse. Flexible approaches exist for family drug intervention and each case must be carefully tailored to the situation at hand.
Whether or not the addict ever gets well, families have to take care of themselves.