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A Family Disease

Understanding Addiction


  • Most people with addictions come from intact families
  • Families with addiction may feel denial, shame, and tension
  • Family members need help as much as the addicted person


Addiction doesn’t just affect the person, it affects the entire family.  Friends and family members of addicts often feel confused, frustrated, angry and helpless.  

The family of the addict is often unable to see the true cause of the family problems.  Sometimes the addiction is a major secret and families live in an atmosphere of shame, tension, and fear.  Often they have lost the ability to communicate or have meaningful relationships with each other.

It is important for the entire family to be involved in a person’s treatment, so that everyone can get well, learn how to communicate in a positive manner, establish healthy relationships, and recover together. 


"My son promises he won’t do it again, but then continues to use." 
Often, people with addictions make promises they can not keep.  They promise that they will only have one drink or that they will not use.  However, someone with an addiction is not able to control their use.  Despite their best intentions to control it, they use more than they intend or relapse when they try to stop.   

"My wife keeps blaming me or other people for her problem."
A person with an addiction will often blame other people or a certain circumstance for their problem.  They don't realize their problems are due to drugs or alcohol.  This is called denial and is very common, but it can make family members feel like they are at fault.  It is not your fault that a person has an addiction, but you can give them the best chance of recovery by referring them to treatment. Sometimes a person believes that they drink normally or that “everyone” takes drugs.  Or sometimes they realize that their drinking is not normal, but are too scared to admit it.  We understand how frightening it can be to admit that a problem exists.  However, early intervention is important to giving somebody the best chances of recovery.  Research shows it does not matter how or why a person gets help.  Even if they don't see a problem, they still have a chance of success.

"I can't eat or sleep because I am so worried."
Often, when a loved one has a problem with addiction, it can be a constant source of worry. A family member of an addict needs help and support too.  There are programs available to assist family members.  These programs are available to help you even if the addict refuses.  

Family members who are living with an addiction need support just a much as the person with the problem.  We can help your family get better, all you need to do is call us at 712-234-2300 or 1-800-472-9018.