One Addict………………….

Many Victims
The family suffers as much as the addict. Karuna Rajiah offers some advice on how you can cope with the problem
The members of a family are inter dependent on each other. Therefore, when there is stress the whole family readjusts itself to bring stability and balance into their lives. With an addict in the family, the family members begin to react in predictable ways. There are multiple victims. Primarily, they are the wife, parents and children. They are victims of addiction, without using chemicals themselves! They suffer silently in the background, struggling to solve their problems, numbing their feelings. Such persons are referred to as co-dependents while addicts are called dependents (on a substance such as alcohol). They usually react rather than act to problems and pain. The need is to learn to act, rather than react. As the problems increase, they suffer from isolation, depression, emotional/physical illness and sometimes suicidal tendencies. Guilt is a common and overwhelming feeling. This leads to a lot of self-blame and consequently to deep shame. There is a chronic and extended loss with no visible end – loss of prestige, of family ties, personal dignity, love, friends, finances……….the list is endless. The family’s helplessness makes them angry with just about everything. The addict gets angry and shouts throughout the night. The wife starts shouting the next morning. In either case, the other person is not listening. There is also a lot of humiliation. The drunken behavior of the addict in front of relatives and friends causes embarrassment leading to feelings of low selfworth and deep shame. Living in such a stressful state produces a lot of fear. These stressful situations lead to communication breakdowns in the family. In an attempt to hide the emotions, the family experiences terrible loneliness. These negative emotions lead to a predictable behavioral response called denial. As fear increases, the family denies having any problem. They justify and rationalize the situation by attributing all this to ‘too much pressure’ or some such external factor. Denial is not lying. It is used unconsciously to control fear and anxiety.

The addict is truly powerless over his addiction. seek professional help. thereby enabling the addict to continue his addiction. Whatever time it takes. She perpetually keeps bailing him out of situations. nor a lack of will power. It is a progressive disease. to avoid an awkward situation. As a family member. Chemical dependency is a family problem. recovery is worth all this effort.  Don’t argue with the person when under the influence of chemicals  Don’t attempt to punish or bribe  Don’t feel guilty for the addict’s behavior  Don’t try to control the addict and his addiction. competent and protective wife. Recovery cannot happen overnight. requiring professional help. This will help in changing the attitude and approach towards the addict and his addiction. Accept this truth. . SOME DON’TS  Don’t justify the addict’s chemical abuse  Don’t hide liquor/drugs. She covers up the consequences of the addict’s behavior. Instead. and becomes an ideal. The addict will anyway know how to acquire more. one must realize that addiction is a disease – not a moral weakness.The spouse of the addict usually becomes a good ‘enabler’ with good intentions.

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