One of the biggest reasons a person does not seek help for an addiction to drugs and alcohol is because of the stigma. They don’t want their friends or family to know that they have a problem with substances. However, the truth is all families regardless of education, socioeconomic status, size, or location of residence are susceptible to addiction. Addiction exists among the wealthy, the poor, throughout all regions of the country, and among all social groups. There are millions of Americans who are dependent or misuse alcohol or drugs, affecting their families and communities. No one can escape being touched by addiction.
In fact, it’s very common for wealthy and educated families to have an incredibly difficult time with getting treatment. It’s easy for a person who is educated, well respected in the community, and wealthy to deny that there is a problem. Because of the image they have of themselves they may not be able to see that there is anything wrong. However, if and when some of their relationships break down or if they begin to experience consequences from their drinking or drug use will they begin to see that there might be a problem.
Interestingly, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), most men and women who abuse alcohol or drugs have productive lives. They have a job, a family, and are productive members of society. Sadly, this can create a false sense of hope in the family – that the drinking or drug is really not all that bad.
However, addiction always affects the relationships and well being of a family. In fact, addiction affects not only the addict but research shows that all members of the family are affected in some way. For instance, addiction can affect the relationships within the family but also the relationships that family members have with themselves. A spouse, for instance, might become more enabling of her addicted spouse, feeling as though she needs to rescue her husband whenever he is drunk. At the same time, she might also lose her own sense of inner power and feel as though she needs her husband to be okay. This situation describes a co-dependent relationship that is so commonly associated with addiction. Furthermore, addiction tends to worsen over time and can be particularly damaging to children and adolescents. Children often tend to adopt the belief that the problems in the family are their fault. They frequently blame themselves for what’s wrong, which can erode their self-esteem and confidence.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, particularly if there is a family involved, it’s important to seek professional assistance. A mental health provider can assist with connecting you with the right resources in the community as well as finding the right addiction treatment center. You can also contact SAMSHA’s national hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4537) for support. By taking a step towards getting help, you support not only yourself but your entire family.
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