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Family Education

Support Meeting

What is Addiction?

Brain disorder.
Pleasure centre in the brain is stimulated.
Enormous sensations of gratification.
Prefrontal Cortex of the brain becomes disabled,
cannot say STOP.
Desire to end negative consequences often leads
addicts to recovery.

Recovery builds

Realising that youre worth it.

Experiencing true happiness.
Caring about yourself.
Over coming your own demons.
Validating your worth.
Eating without regret.
Relapse- its going to happens, its

inevitable and thats okay.

Yearning to live.

Addiction is a process, NOT

an event:
Addiction Cycle
Acting Out







Lack ejecti
of S
r s
Ange hip

& Remorse






& Depression


Addiction is different:
Grows over time, harder to recognise.
Addiction is akin to the boiling frog phenomenon:

The Family in the Process:

Families get affected.

Extent to which impact occurs depends on family
members knowledge, and resources.
This can take months or years.
Easy to blame ourselves, or become resentful.
Can be a relief to realise you cannot control or cure
your loved one.
Family members who do not accept this can
become hurt, cannot function, personalities change
and become victims too.

An Innocent Start:
In the beginning

Nobody wants to become an addict.

Experimentation begins in the teen years, when the
pre-frontal cortex is not fully developed.
More likely to engage in risky behaviours and want
instant gratification.
Younger the person starts using = more chance of
developing addiction.

Or another way to enter

process of addiction:

Doctor provided prescriptions.

Chronic pain and anxiety.
Opiates and benzodiazepines are highly addictive.
Patients Doctor shop.

The Family Enters the


There has to be a reason or benefit for people to continue certain

behaviours, same with addiction.
People continue to use because they like the effects.
Addicts make space in their lives for their addiction.
Preoccupied and it is time consuming.
At the same time, family members become preoccupied with their
loved ones.
Negatively impacts family members.
Family members feel hurt, angry, frustrated and confused.
Wonder why loved one is acting differently, withdrawing, not
handling responsibilities.
Tension builds.
Aggression, arguments, confrontations can occur.
Some family members are more passive, stuff concerns inside, walk
on eggshells.
Some family members are passive-aggressive, find ways to get

The Process Continues:

Addicts are sick, NOT stupid.

Tension grows in the family.
Vicious cycle.
Family members feel guilty, wonder if they caused
the problem, feel they failed to fix it.
Family members wish theyd discovered the
problem earlier, said something differently or acted
differently, believing they had the power and
responsibility to cure/control the disease.
Parents may feel they caused the disease because
they failed to protect their loved ones.
Everybodys stress levels have increased
Witnessing someone you love suffering from addiction is incredibly
We have natural reactions to stress:

Defences kick in.

Defences are meant to help us.
With addiction, they can get stuck, tend to be
harmful rather than helpful.
Main defences: denial, minimisation, avoidance,
blaming, rationalising/justifying.

Common excuse : If you had the job/life/family/

trauma Ive had you would understand I need/
deserve/cannot live without this.
Family members also prone to getting stuck in
Can live in DENIAL, can also AVOID.
Family members can BLAME, will also join in
Families give loved ones benefit of doubt- hoping
they will magically change.
By joining in the excuses, family members make
them stronger.

With the defences in place, people are no longer

tethered to reality.
Mood swings are common.
Addictive chemicals change emotional centres in the
Mood swings get worse.
Family members have them too, touchiness,
irritability, tearfulness.
Late stages: Chaos-areas impacted: Finances,
Health, Relationships, Work and School.
This applies to family members too.
Stress takes a great toll, heart problems, blood
pressure, stomach irritation, muscle tension,
immune system.
Family members experience relationship problems.
Productivity in all areas of life can suffer.

In the end

The pressure of this process must go somewhere:

Those who internalise: Depression, anxiety.
Those who externalise: Rage, anger, aggression.
Those who cannot stand to feel: Numb
= situation has gone from bad to worse.

Families Stuck
Family members get caught if they believe relief can
only come if addict changes. Thoughts related to this:

I want to fix you because it hurts me to see you this

I want to feel happy, I cant do that if you are sick.
When Im feeling bad I blame you, if only you were
taking better care of yourself I wouldnt have to feel
this way.
I feel empty because nothing is getting through to
you, I dont know what else to do or who will
understand. Im all alone.

As a result :
Family members feel RESPONSIBLE FOR the addict, and
try to:

Fix, rescue protect and control which leads to :

Exhaustion, anxiety, fear, guilt, anger, rejection,
Enabling is common.
Standing between person and consequences.
Doing something for someone they should be doing
Engaging in behaviours that perpetuate problematic

Ways that families enable

loved ones:

Getting stuck in the defences.

Denying there is a problem.
Minimizing the problem.
Avoiding discussions about the problem.
Blaming others or lashing out in anger.
Joining in the rationalizations/justifications.
Taking over their responsibilities.
Continuing to provide financial support.
Helping resolve legal problems.
Promising rewards for abstinence.
Threatening to kick them out and not following
through with the boundaries set.

Getting Unstuck

To get out of the process, family members must learn to detach.

Recognise it is impossible to control/cure another person-trying
to do so makes it worse.
Detachment is not abandonment.
Abandonment, family members let go with hate. Pull away with
bitterness and resentment, healing is not possible.
Detachment, family members recognise what they can/cannot do.
They stop enabling. Create boundaries to protect safety and sanity.
Reach out for support and education. Find ways to enjoy life
again. Still love the addict.
Because of improved balance and rational thinking, able to shine a
light of health onto the situation which can improve communication
and decisions.

Family member who has detached knows I cannot control you. I

can only control me. If I am hurt, then I have to take care of me.
I have to get my centre back so I can function again. I heal through
connections and balance. Health is here and you are welcome to
join me. I take responsibility for myself and bring the benefits of my
healthy lifestyle back into my relationships. I share myself with
healthy people. You take care of you. I take care of me. We support
each other.

Being responsible FOR others, family members become
responsible TO others, meaning they are sensitive, empathetic,
encouraging and able to listen while maintaining necessary
boundaries and confronting behaviours when appropriate.

Family members can breathe again. More relaxed, free and aware.

How do families get there?

Comfort, relief and information can be found

through support groups such as Nar-Anon and
Al-Anon, where family members go through a
12-Step Programme of learning and healing.

Read literature on addiction

Individual therapy
Family therapy
You can learn to move from panic to serenity.

It will hurt,

It will take time.

It will require dedication.
It will require willpower.
You will need to make healthy decisions.
requires sacrifice.
You will need to push your body to its max.
There will be temptation.
But, I promise you, when
you reach your goal, its

Worth It.