Addiction is often referred to as a family disease which implies that the suffering addict is not the only one to experience the horrific effects that addiction brings. In certain cases, there may have been issues within the family that created unhealthy dynamics which in turn might cause the addict to seek out solace in the form of alcohol and drugs. Because recovery from addiction requires a support network that is often times comprised of family members, it is wise that grasp the extent to which our families can provide help for us, or if they themselves are in a position to be of service at all.
One of the primary factors that hinders the effectiveness of support from the family is that often times the parents and even loved ones fail to see clearly the proper ways in which the addict needs support. Because of the overwhelming love parents have for their children, they are often incapable of understand what is best for their suffering family member. This is most easily illustrated by parents who engage in enabling. Enabling family members not only hurt themselves by justifying their enabling as compassion, but they hurt the addict as well because enabling essentially provides a short-cut to a problem that needs to be faced by the addict in order to obtain knowledge and wisdom which facilitates growth. Saint Bernard accurately stated that, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” and in no other context is this more appropriately applied to than the familial enabling of the addict. This quote sums of all too accurately what happens when the family members love for their child outweighs their understanding that sometimes love is best manifested in constructively formed criticisms as well as the disallowance of things that prioritize short term happiness over long term growth. A key point here is that families, quite obviously, wouldn’t engage in acts that they knew might be harmful to the recovering addict. The problem is, however, that most families do not understand the nature of addiction and therefore cannot and should not try and adopt the addict’s recovery as their own, or as their responsibility. It could very well be that the parental intervention throughout the addict’s life is part and parcel why they were able to exist in an addicted state to begin with. If we as supportive and well-intentioned families can understand that sometimes it requires that those we love most must burn their hands on the stove in order to realize it is hot. The lack of intervention in this metaphor is used to illustrate that sometimes our love is best expressed in non-action so that the lessons can be learned and realized by the suffering addict, even if it requires some pain and difficulty along the way.
Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon is a men’s addiction treatment center that teaches our clients how to roll with life’s punches and use the tools they’ve learned throughout the treatment process to stay on top of anything life throws at them. Call (503) 850-2474 to see how we can help you today.