“The only way to help addicts is to treat them not as bad people but as sick people”, Russell Brand.
The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction as being a complex condition. It is a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use, despite the harmful consequences. People who suffer from addiction of substance abuse often focus on a particular substance, such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it completely takes over their life and they are unable to function without it.
Living with an addict can be terribly frustrating and painful, especially when it’s one of your parents who is the addict. At first you think that it will never happen to you, until it does. It’s like your scariest horror film suddenly becomes your day to day life. You begin in denial and force yourself to make excuses for your parent; such as them being stuck in the office and are rushing as fast as they can to come and collect you from school, when in reality they are passed out drunk in the local pub. But it is important to remember that addiction is a disease.
There are many ways to help addicts overcome their addiction such as rehabs, therapy and support groups. Addicts may however have moments of weakness on their journey to recovery, these are more commonly known as relapses. These can be extremely devastating for family members and often diminishes all hope for the addicts sober future. But remember to remain as optimistic as you can, the road to recovery is a long and difficult journey and will not happen overnight. Be patient and supportive where you can but you also need to help yourself first.
There are extensive resources and support for family members of addicts, such as The National Family Support Network and Al-Anon or Alateen. These types of support groups are helpful in coming to terms with living with an addict, and how to cope with all the stress that comes with it. The video below is by the digital creator group Bestie. They discuss what it is you need to know about addiction as well as how to cope with living with an addict.
Knowing first-hand the extreme psychological stress of living with an addict, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of establishing a good support network and getting involved in various hobbies and activities. It is vital to surround yourself with positive people and things that bring you happiness. I am fortunate enough that a personal relative has been in recovery and sober for several years now and I am beyond proud of them. As hard as it is for the relatives of an addict, it is even harder for the addict themselves. Most of the time addicts are aware that they have a problem, but have difficulty stopping on their own. Your support will not only motivate but also encourage them in their road to recovery.