The Effects of Addiction on Friends and Family

Chemical dependency is the loss of control over an addictive substance.

It is an illness that strikes randomly throughout the population. It happens to people at all income levels, of all races, any age and both genders.

It does not result from a lack of willpower or loose morals.

Rather, it’s a terrifying, destructive, progressive illness that if left unchecked results in death or disability. As with any serious illness, the family and friends of the victim are profoundly affected.

As the addict’s life becomes more and more out of control, family members often scramble to pick up the pieces and fill in the gaps. The bills still have to be paid. The kids need to eat. The job needs to get done. Life has to go on.

So family members work harder and harder to make up for all the emotional and practical things the addict is no longer capable of tending to. As a result, the family members’ lives become more and more focused on the addict and less on themselves.

Adapted from Steps 1-4 Workbook for the Whole Family, a Hazelden Workbook written by Laura F. Gross

Are you affected by a loved one’s addiction?
Crossroads for Women’s Outpatient Program in Portland, Maine offers support, education and counseling designed specifically for family and friends of women who struggle with addiction, regardless of their choices around treatment. The Outpatient Program also offers “The Effects of Addiction on Friends & Family” (pdf), a 5-week educational series that explores the basics of addiction, the recovery process and how to be supportive of the loved one while also taking care of you. FMI, please call 207.773-9931.

Or, visit the Al-Anon/Alateen website to find a support group in your local area. In their words, “the Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems.”

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