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Typically, the whole family suffers from the effects of addiction. The family system has been under tremendous stress leading to a breakdown of healthy coping. Family members often feel isolated and alone when their loved one has active addiction. Families can also feel left out of the recovery process. Family members have many support options to choose from family and individual counseling, support groups, and on-line resources.
Tips for Families During the Holidays
· Pay attention to the HALT signs (Hungry, Angry, Lonely & Tired).
· Seek support from Al-Anon or other community support systems.
· Go to parties late and leave early.
· Have a special word between you and your loved one indicating the need to leave a situation, no questions asked. You may just need a time out or you may need to leave entirely.
· Discuss and plan with your loved ones what the plans are so everyone has buy-in.
· Respond rather than react and always remember to breathe. Try to find the fun in the holidays this year!
Helpful Links for Family
For Family & Friends: Al-Anon & Alateen http://www.OregonAl-Anon.org
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) http://www.adultchildren.org
National Alcohol and Substance Abuse Information Center
Addiction Treatment Resources http://www.addictionsearch.com
Benefits of Drug and Alcohol Prevention (no endorsement implied)
Recovery Connection http://www.recoveryconnection.org/drug-addiction/
Recovery Realm (forums, chat rooms, blogs and resources)
Alcoholism and the Family
Source: Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 315, Understanding Alcoholism
“It is no longer possible to consider alcoholism as a disease affecting only the alcoholic. Others in the family react to the illness. There is considerable evidence that it has disturbing effects on the personalities of family members, and family studies indicate that a minimum of one other relative is directly involved.
The relationship between the alcoholic and the family is not a one-way relationship. The family also affects the alcoholic and his or her illness...Some families are successful in helping the alcoholic member to recognize a need for help and to support treatment efforts. Others may discourage the alcoholic from seeking treatment and may actually encourage persistence of the illness. It is believed that the most successful treatment of alcoholism involves helping both the alcoholic and those members of the family who are directly involved in the alcoholic’s behavior.”
Family and Addictions
The person struggling with addiction has had a very difficult journey, many times losing their physical, emotional and spiritual health. They have also significantly strained their relationships with family and friends. Feelings of isolation and loneliness are common. These very problems are often also true for the family members of addicts and alcoholics. Family members report symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as gastrointestinal problems. Feelings of fear, sadness, anger and grief are typical for families. Family members will often attempt to “control” the chemically dependent person, leading to frustration and feelings of helplessness. Families need support and help too.