The Family and Addictions

by Teresita Calero

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Excerpt from Blue Book Volume LVIII – Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting, January 22- 24, 2008, New Orleans, LA

talk to your kidsChemical dependency fosters worry, shame, fear, secrecy; it may lead to self-blame, with wondering if, preoccupation with “is there something wrong with me?” The natural consequences of addiction cause pain, without these the addict will not find the motivation to change.  Family members need to get out of the way of the pain and allow the addict to experience the consequences resulting from the pain.  As hard as it is to stand back and allow someone we love to suffer, if we take away their pain, the motivation to change goes with it.  It is imperative to not cover up, make excuses, or in any way shield the addict from the natural consequences of their behaviors.  We cannot allow ourselves to take responsibility or feel guilty for the addict’s behavior; it will only erode our own being.

A family bombarded by the destructive forces of addiction, experiences betrayal, the using member disconnects from relating to the family preferring a relationship to a substance or experience.  This process of disconnection from the family members disintegrates the fiber of the family, this type of leaving creates a profound wound and its members begin to protect themselves and each other…

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