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Addiction: The Family Disease

Addiction and healthcare professionals refer to addiction as a “family disease” because of the effect it has on the lives of every one it touches. Left untreated, addiction and the self-defeating thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that result from its impact, are passed on to future generations.

Families are organized by roles, rules, rituals, boundaries and hierarchy and the family processes this structure through the way its members communicate and interact with each other.

Living with addiction requires the family to take on unhealthy roles and beliefs. The rules become more about protecting unhealthy behaviors than providing guidelines for healthy family functioning. In addition, boundaries become unhealthy obstacles-often limiting autonomy and choice for the individual family members. Communication and interactional patterns are characterized by avoidance or defensiveness and as a result discourage honesty and spontaneity.

These adaptations a family experiences while living with addiction are undertaken both consciously and unconsciously in the interest of finding stability and safety amid an atmosphere of tension, fear, chaos, mistrust and unpredictability. But know this: The compensations the family makes are a normal response to living with addiction. That’s right – normal.  Unfortunately for everyone involved here, there’s a big difference between what’s normal and what’s healthy.

Sounds hopeless, but there is good news Addiction is a treatable disease and recovery is possible for addicts and their families. With education, guidance and support, entire families have an opportunity to experience the health, happiness and growth that recovery can bring.

Family Intervention Now is committed to more than just getting an addict into treatment.  Our goal is to provide the education, resources and direction so that each family member has the opportunity to heal.