Addiction is considered to be a brain disease because of the way in which the disease and substance abuse rewires one’s brain. Much like any type of mental health disorder, addiction has the propensity to greatly affect an addict’s loved ones. There are a number of reasons a person will turn to drugs or alcohol. Drug addiction occurs when an individual abuses drugs or alcohol with complete disregard for its physical, social, financial, and emotional consequences. The spillover of addiction into other people’s lives can be overwhelming.

It is extremely challenging to witness an individual go down the path of self-destruction such as addiction. It is widely known that an individual who is intoxicated will behave differently than that of a sober individual. This shift in behavior can cause strains on one’s relationships. One of the most challenging parts of addiction is how it affects the various social circles of the addict. For example, the effects on one’s family unit can be devastating. Groups of friends may dissipate and shy away from an addict. Or an addict may steer clear of his or her friends who do not abuse drugs or alcohol and will surround him or herself with other people who also abuse drugs or alcohol. Addiction does not only affect the person who is abusing drugs.

Every individual who struggles with addiction will have a somewhat distinct experience from another. This can be the same for the loved ones of an addict. Each person will react to one’s addiction differently. Some loved ones will choose to withdraw, while others may attempt to throw themselves into trying to fix the addict. Addicts can be like a sinking ship. They will do anything and say anything to feed their addiction.

Admitting that one has a substance abuse problem is one of the first stages of realizing the need for addiction treatment. Due to the negative stigma that substance abuse and addiction hold, or have held, in the American society, there can be a significant amount of shame regarding one’s addition, which can lead to denial, and in turn the perpetuation one’s substance abuse. This is also true for the loved ones of an addict—there can be judgment, shame, and even blame thrust upon a loved one. Regardless of how a loved one tries to deal with the consequences of an addict’s addiction, it is imperative to remember that, as a loved one of an addict, there are many support options available.

Addiction is a tricky, manipulative disease. Though it may appear that an individual is in control of his or her choices, this is actually not the case. One’s addiction drives his or her choices. Therefore, when the loved one of an individual intervenes, even with the best of intentions, it can result in disaster. It is not uncommon for individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol to experience severe financial strain. This is one area where the loved ones of the addict may step in, thinking they are simply helping him or her with bills, groceries, tuition, or anything not related to drugs or alcohol. In reality, money is fluid. If a person is actively abusing drugs or alcohol he or she is allocating his or her money to do so. Obtaining one’s drug of choice becomes the priority and an addict may manipulate, steal, or lay on the guilt to find the funds to support his or her habit. By giving an actively using addict money, a loved one is actually helping to support his or her substance abuse habit, enabling him or her to continue to feed his or her addiction. It is imperative for a loved one of an addict to realize that ultimately, it is only up to the addict to get sober, and that it is impossible for the loved one to do the work to treat the addiction on the addict’s behalf.

There are a number of support groups available for loved ones of an individual who struggles with addiction. Substance abuse and addiction is a serious disease and does not only affect the individual who has been abusing a substance. Finding a support network, as the loved one of an addict, is essential. Education is of utmost importance when dealing with an addict. There can be many issues that may arise when dealing with an addict that are confusing and challenging. Sharing and learning from other individuals who have been in a similar situation can be extremely helpful. If a person would like more information of support groups he or she should feel free to do a quick online search. Additionally, there are a couple of well-known support groups, such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, that are located all over the country.

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