Anyone who belongs to a family knows that when one member of the family is sick or in crisis, the entire family is affected. Most of the time, these illnesses or crises are short-lived. such as when mom gets a bad cold or dad gets in a minor car accident or when one of the kids gets injured playing sports. In these cases, the family tends to adapt quickly in order to meet temporary needs. They soon return to their normal roles and activities when the crisis is over. Clinicians refer to this as the family being adaptive in a healthy way.
Sometimes, family members develop serious illnesses that last a long time. These illnesses can causes multiple crises to arise again and again. Examples of chronic conditions include a parent developing cancer or an adolescent being diagnosed with diabetes. These conditions may cause a family to adapt in ways that are more permanent. Even so, these ways can still be healthy.
Like with other chronic illnesses, when an individual is afflicted with alcoholism or other addiction, the whole family is affected. Addiction forces the family to adapt. In these cases, the adaptive behaviors are generally unhealthy, or maladaptive. Maladaptive behaviors tend to damage the entire family – and they can actually make the addiction worse.
One example of a common maladaptive pattern of behavior is when family members begin to “cover for” the addicted person. Other maladaptive patterns include:
Addiction is a disease of isolation that slowly cuts the afflicted off from the rest of the world. In families, the result of maladaptive patterns causes the very same thing. Families tend to lose more and more of the richness of life as they focus on the addicted and the addiction. Family members tend to stop caring for themselves, cease to have appropriate boundaries, and develop an ongoing anxiety (what many call co-dependence). They develop a view of the world in which “the only way I can be okay is if you are okay”, rather than learning to develop as an independent person.
When an individual suffers from the disease of addiction, the family will have to adapt to it just as with any other disease. The good news, though, is that it is possible to deal with it in healthy ways. Doing so requires concerted effort and time but is worth it all. Origins presents families with ongoing support, including a week long intensive family program. Our Family Programs are designed to educate the family and jump start the process of healthy communication and healing.
Families do not cause addiction and so they cannot cure it. They can, however, grow as a collection of individuals who strive to make healthy choices. In doing so, they can create an environment where the family is still a family and individuals in that family can grow to their own full potential. In this type of environment, recovery – and anything else one can dream of – is possible.
The first step can happen today at 844-843-8935.
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