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  • Help and Support Groups for Families of Alcoholics and Addicts

    Renascent Family Program Helps the Family Heal

    When someone who is struggling with drug and alcohol addiction makes the decision to seek help, it can feel overwhelming to face the damage that has occurred in their lives. As the fog of substance abuse lifts, what’s often apparent is that much rebuilding will be necessary – from the ground up. While many core strengths and assets may remain, addiction may rob the individual of many things: external things like jobs, possessions, opportunities, years of life, even physical freedom…and less tangible things, which nevertheless can be the most painful: damage to reputation, self-respect, dignity, self-confidence.

    For an individual who has lost so much as a result of alcohol and drug dependency, it can be difficult to recognize that family members have also sustained losses as a result of coping with their loved one’s addiction. Often, family members require education, counselling and even crisis support to deal with the impact that chemical dependence in the family has had on their lives.

    Addiction can Lead to Family Breakdown

    Family forms the foundation of most people’s lives. Yet this foundation can be severely damaged by a loved one’s drug and/or alcohol addiction. Whether the addicted person is ‘functioning’, continuing to fulfill various work and family responsibilities, or whether a complete collapse in these areas has occurred, family members can see and feel a change in their loved one’s behaviour, attitude and actions. No matter how vehement the denial, family members sense something is seriously amiss…but because they are largely powerless to influence their loved one, they may feel confusion, anxiety and increasing desperation as the person they know is changed by their addiction. Spouses, parents, children and even extended family members are not only peripherally affected by addiction, they can also get directly involved and drawn in to the vortex of addiction. If this continues for an extended period, relationships within the family can sustain severe damage and the important elements of the relationship, including love and trust, can break down.

    Help for the Addicted Person and for Family is Just the Beginning

    When a loved one does admit they have a problem and seeks help, it may seem like the problem has been solved, but in truth this is just the beginning. Family members may find that although their loved one is now seeking help, they themselves are a long way from living well – it may seem impossible to return to the family dynamic of the pre-addiction.  It’s important to remember here that the real foe is not the person struggling with addiction, or the family members who may have drawn battle lines over it, but the addiction itself. Often family members need their own help to see the extent to which they have been affected by someone else’s addiction, to share their experiences and identify their own problematic behaviours, and to get the support they need to heal from the trauma they may have experienced as a result of being close to someone who has battled addictions.

    Real Recovery is Possible for the Individual and the Family

    The good news is, addiction is a disease with a good prognosis – not just for the individual, but for the family as well. The Family Program at Renascent is designed to help the whole family heal, with goal-oriented treatment centred around helping families face their own personal recovery issues head-on and overcome them in a supportive, caring environment. We offer a range of in-person, telephone, group and one-on-one family care and counselling programs that are accessible to everyone who is interested in building a new foundation with roots in solid recovery.

    To find out more about the Renascent Family Program for families affected by chemical dependency, please attend one of our free, twice-monthly information nights.

    About the Authors

    Renascent Alumni
    Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.

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