But for families who have one or more members struggling with addiction, the holidays aren’t quite as enjoyable. Federal studies reveal that an astonishing 70 million children live with addicted parents, and the reverse scenario is also common.
During these holiday gatherings, when families spend more time with one another than normal, problems with substance abuse and addiction often rise to the surface and become more apparent.
“Families usually have a gut feeling that something isn’t right,” Dody Vail, director of NCADD of Northeast Mississippi, told DJournal.com on Dec. 29. The NCADD provides free assessments and treatment program referrals to people battling substance abuse.
That’s because there are often many indicators of addiction that raise warning flags among families, explained David Carpenter, clinical therapist at the Oxford Centre’s outpatient office in Tupelo, MS. Changes in personality or appearance, and trouble at work or in relationships, are common signs of trouble. It’s not uncommon for family members with addiction to become defensive when asked probing questions.
“Family members can be instrumental in helping a drug-dependent individual gain awareness and insight into their behaviors and at least start the process of accepting their situation and seeking help, instead of being in denial,” said Arnold Hesnod, Clinical Outreach, Clear Sky Ibogaine. “Ultimately every person must take responsibility for their actions and begin moving in the right direction; but especially in the early stages of recovery, family can be the instrumental in helping start the recovery and healing process.”
Despite the familial fractures that can come at this time of year, there is some hope for parents who want to help their children overcome addiction, Vail explained. It’s imperative for friends and family to move past the defensiveness of their loved one and not stand by and do nothing. Avoid shaming and becoming overly confrontational during any intervention, as well.
“Budging denial isn’t fun, but it’s essential,” Vail said.
By remaining supportive, honest and engaged, family members can become the impetus for their loved one’s recovery from addiction.