Addiction does not discriminate. It does not care about age, socio-economics, geography, culture, religion or education. It is a disease and needs to be treated as such. While it may be true that many are able to drink socially or even take medications as prescribed and never become addicted, many are not as fortunate. The reasons and risk factors behind why someone drinks or uses drugs are complex, and using is often a way to escape emotional, physical or psychological pain. Often times it is the underlying motivations behind the drug seeking behaviors, than the frequency of use. Denial and delusion cloud judgement and delays facing the truth. Opening your eyes (and heart) can be the beginning of a new life for a loved one.
So many of us have heard that addiction is a disease that affects everyone in the family. No matter how strong the bonds, when addiction takes its hold, it will literally break a family apart. From our work with hundreds of families - from the first phone call through a client completing treatment - we are here to give hope to families during their darkest times.
Here is a story from a daughter about her mother that hid her addiction to prescription pills for over twenty years. It was not until a near-death overdose that her family found out how bad things had become.
“It was about 2 o’clock in the morning and I received a phone call from an emergency room that my mother had overdosed on Xanax. After my mother was stabilized, I called around for rehab places in Orange County and reached out to Coastline Behavioral Health. It was not until several weeks into our mom’s treatment that my brothers and I learned how bad things had gotten. Sure we were adults and did not live at home anymore, but how could our mom been taking up 15 Xanax a day and we never knew about it?”
When is it Time to Let Go?
When we are working with families that have given up hope, so many will ask us, “How will this time be different? What should I do differently? Where did things go wrong? Are we to blame?” Guilt and shame, and the countless rewinding of the “tape” to see where things went wrong are racing thoughts through the mind of every mother, father, husband, wife, brother, sister, daughter or son in the families we have helped. Instead of looking back, we encourage families to look forward and see what can be done differently this time. These may be heartbreaking decisions. What person would ever want to turn away a loved one? In reality, this may be the only choice to save their life.
Here is a story from a mother that was sure that it would never happen to her family until her son almost died before he got clean.
“My beautiful boy was full of life, had friends and did well in school. He did not come from a ‘broken home’ and he always seemed very emotionally mature. It was not until he went away to college that he started drinking more than socially and his using quickly progressed within a few short months. It seemed like he was on an endless chase to find a better and better high. He eventually dropped out of school and was basically living on the streets, only calling us every few months when he needed money. Financial strains, lying and stealing literally broke our family apart. It was not until after 3 different attempts at rehab and subsequent relapse, that his father and I had to let go. It was during his 4th return to rehab at Coastline that we had a family session with his therapist. We were told that while our love for our son was a blessing, our actions were enabling our son to continue in his addiction. We agreed that we would cut financial support and not allow him to return home if he left treatment before completion.”
Healing and Rebuilding Trust
Not every story has a happy ending, but with these two stories there is hope for these families broken by addiction. First was through acceptance and second was through willingness. Both of these clients completed the treatment program at Coastline and are still sober today. Each of them has shared with us their efforts to heal their family relationships and rebuild trust. And more importantly, they know they cannot turn back time and undo the pain they caused. Instead, they can live for today and continue on their path in sobriety.
Resources and Suggested Reading