Family’s role in treating addiction | Lorijen HospitalLorijen Hospital

Family’s role in treating addiction

It is very difficult, often confusing, even terrifying to live with an addict in the family. Family members always have to be in a state of alertness in case of emergencies.

A healthy way to confront addiction is to face the problem and take steps towards resolving it.

Unfortunately, it is much more frequent that the family adapts to addiction of one of the members, learns to live with it, creating a pathological balance in the family. In many ways the family assumes the addict’s behavior, denying and trivializing the problem, finding excuses for it… It is a known fact that the parents are often last to find out that their child is an addict. It is not because the child has been successfully hiding it from them, but because they subconsciously refuse to see and admit to themselves what is obvious to everybody else. It is because the parents themselves fabricate or accept fake explanations, to justify the undeniable facts, refusing to see the consequences the addiction of one family member has for the whole family.

These unhealthy ways of adapting to addiction gradually lead to dysfunction within the family and its progressive destruction. In the meantime, the family member’s addiction, which is not addressed in any way, is progressing and getting worse.

It may seem paradoxical, but family members often, consciously or unconsciously, support the addiction of their family member.

And in what way? By taking on the addict’s responsibilities, protecting the addict from the consequences of his/hers own actions – excusing school absence, buying out pawned household items or repurchasing the already sold ones, protecting the addict from legal consequences, returning debts, buying the addict drugs, alcohol or vitamins and special foods to prevent physical degradation, relieving the addict from house chores or other responsibilities the addict is not anymore able to do and taking them on, buying sedative/hypnotic medication or pain medication to help the addict treat symptoms of withdrawal…

These behaviors remove the obstacles for alcohol and drug use and provide the addict with a distorted image of reality. The addict lives in the illusion that his/hers action don’t bare consequences.

Advice for parents/friends/members of family

First step for parents is to accept that a problem exists, and then to stop acting as accomplices. It is necessary for them to make it harder for the addict to come by drugs and let him/her experience the consequences of his actions. Only then will the addict be able to get out of the vicious circle of addiction and free himself from its influence.


Parents must not allow the addict manipulation.

One of the most frequent manipulations is Karpman Drama Triangle, where the addict sees himself as a victim of one parent (prosecutor), and the other as a rescuer. This creates a discord between parents which allows the addict to continue with manipulation. That is why it is important for parents to make a strong alliance and to collaborate in treatment of the addict by taking the same stand.

It is important to decide on how to proceed in calm, composed and a clear headed manner.

Try to calmly talk with the addict and confront him with evidence.

Keep track of his/hers leisure time activities, communications with other people, life events.

Addicts are able to do everything in their power to trivialize or deny the problem. Don’t fall for manipulations, lies and deceit.

Ask for help from friends and family, as well as professional help.

How can Lorijen be of assistance?

Team of professionals at Lorijen hospital helps family members to take the right approach to the problem of addiction, learn more about it and become adequate assistants in treatment:

Family therapy is proved to be successful and efficient treatment for different types of addiction.

Family group therapy is group work between family members and assistants in treatment of different patients that allows them to share experiences between themselves.

The SMART RECOVERY program for treating addiction includes as part of the treatment the active support of family members and assistants in treatment during the II phase of treatment.

Third step of the SMART RECOVERY program is intensive group work between patients and assistants in treatment.

For more information or if you think that you or your loved one is in need of help, please contact us.

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Application of wide variety of methods allows us to create personalized treatment plans and achieve long-term recovery.

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