David Tejeda, LPC – Family Services Director
When a person first hears the phrase “addiction is a family illness,” it may rouse several innate objections and skepticism. This is the challenge that every non-addicted family member must confront. The therapist holds up a mirror and asks the classic question, “How is that working for you?” The family humbly reflects over its innovative and exhausted solutions that have resulted in the same heart-breaking outcome. The loved one keeps getting loaded, and the family keeps disintegrating with well-intentioned but failing attempts to “keep them” sober.
Everything is interconnected.
The addicted family system, in valiant efforts to achieve a semblance of stabilization and harmony, undergoes structural and functional changes that may be as dysfunctional as the addiction itself. Some of these familial adaptive changes to stress persist long after the addict recovers. The mirror that the therapist holds up to the family is a humbling and necessary antiseptic that initiates the healing process for each willing participant in this system.
The cost of loving an addict comes at an exorbitant price.
Every single dimension of humanity is affected by this relationship: physical, emotional, social, and spiritual, to name a few. As loving parents, children, employers, or spouses scramble to lift the addict to a state of wholeness, their integrity and dignity are impacted. Boundaries become loose or too rigid. Emotional hostility or numbness grows in the shadows. Much like the addict herself, family members often engage in circular patterns of behavior that unknowingly perpetuate or exacerbate the addiction cycle. The paradox is that this enabling of the addiction stems from a well of good intentions and genuine love.
The first pillar of the 12-Step approach speaks of powerlessness.
It is nothing less than a sheer act of humility. It is a call for the person to admit that despite sincere efforts, determination, and knowledge, the necessary changes to recover are undiscovered or seemingly inaccessible. It lays the soil so that new seeds may be sown. Surrender, in this narrow context, is the nexus of power and growth. The addict’s hero journey through recovery encompasses timeless changes and principles that have permeated many societies, psychologies, and spiritual systems.
A family in recovery is a force of nature that distributes stability, flexibility, and wisdom.
Much like the addict in the initial throes of sobriety, the family must concede that what appears to be natural and logical is not. The acceptance of humility is the catalyst that allows the evolving therapies and spiritual principles to reach every cell of the family system. Only after this acceptance can the rest of the recovery blossom. The radical changes to boundaries, communication, hierarchy, structure, and roles is an endeavor that is requisite upon education, compassion, and experience.
The integrity and wholeness resultant from a family healing in recovery is a bedrock of support for a community.
It is common knowledge that a healthy family positively impacts the recovering addict in various ways ranging from giving appropriate support that widens the scope of emotional and spiritual growth to significantly reducing the length of a slip or relapse. However, there are far-reaching benefits to a healthy family that are not often discussed. The transmission of healthy family rules and habits for future generations to come, the support for other families suffering, and the wisdom that radiates to friends, employers, organizations, and society are the benefits of a recovered family. Everything indeed is interconnected.
Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1019.