Understanding Addiction in the Family: What Now?

Recent interview in the news featured Cameron Douglas story with his father on his journey with addiction. One thing that comes out very clearly in this real life family addiction saga is that there is nothing you can do to get an addict to get help until they are 100% ready. Not “Jails, institutions, or death”. The rehab worked for him only when he finally made the decision that he wanted help.

This is so true for so many addicts, whether they are in fame or not. Addiction does not discriminate on class, status, color or backgrounds. Every story of addiction is uniquely different but in the end we are all the same.

When we have a child or a significant other in addiction, you may wonder how you got here, and how do we get out of here. If this has played in the family generationaly, then there is an inner voice of how can we avoid this in future?

There are many factors that influence addiction. Childhood experiences, Genes, Environmental factors and Mental Health. All this are different for each person and understanding the main factors for individual person will help address the right causes and not waste time and money on universal approach.

How to Plan for the Right Therapy

In my experiences both personal and those around me, the first things that come to mind is self-blame and guilt and confusion. Understanding addiction in the family and taking time to understanding the cause for addiction on the individual is critical and blaming yourself or guilt is not part of the success.

It first removes the blame and guilt from the family by understanding the underlying source of addiction. This in turn allows the family to plan for strategic and fitting plan for the right treatment and therapies for the individual. There is no one fit all therapy.

Most research is giving us a window on what to look for in those in our care, especially adolescents that could help identify personal  characteristics that if addressed early could help with the substance dependence and delay the onset of any substance use.

Here we will step back and try to understand what research is finding about how some people, especially the youth start abusing substances and become addicts and what we can do before it gets there.

We will also review the two things that we can have happen once the addict gets help that will make the already failing records of rehab more enduring long term.

Personality and Addiction

In a study titled Addiction and “Generation Me:” Alcohol Treat Q. The scientists try understand what they refer to as the “narcissistic and prosocial behaviors as reported by adolescents with and without substance dependency disorder (SDD)”.

According to the researchers, there is a correlation between the increased rate of substance dependency disorders in youth in the United States and the increased trend of a sense of grandiosity and entitlement among the youth.

In comparing the Adolescents with SDD and those normative adolescents, the adolescents with SDD were clearly notable by blatant narcissistic behaviors and had less financial giving.

According to the study the level of “narcissistic and prosocial behaviors among adolescents with SDD suggest a connection between self Centeredness and addiction”. The Findings on the study also suggested volunteering as a strong option to reverse the narcissism in the adolescent with substance dependence

How Do You Know Your Adolescent is Narcissistic?

According to Dr. Brummelman, “While self-esteem contributes to mental health (for example, by reducing anxiety and depression, helping to maintain healthy relationships, etc.), narcissism can harm mental health from a young age”.

According to psychology today , it easy to mistake between extreme self-esteem and narcissism. But the difference is very clear and impactful especially to children and youth.

Narcissism assumes superiority to other people and others being inferior to you. The relationship with others hence tend to be competitive and a zero-sum game, where there can only be one winner which is you.

Self-esteem, on the other hand assumes that you are worthy of who you are as a person and does not mean that you are necessarily superior to others. You see others as equals. In this case there is a non-zero-sum game, where every person gets what they want.

Narcissist Personality Disorder by itself is not life-threatening, but it is important to get it diagnosed and treated for the child or teen. A stitch in time saves nine. If there is a correlation to substance dependency disorder, you may want to get it addressed for a healthy future and social life.

Social Networks and Addiction: Long Term Recovery Outcome

There is nothing more important than the company you keep. In observing our own lives, we are just as good as the company we keep. The company that your child or teen keep is important mainly because the adolescent influences each other significantly.

Besides, there are some people who are naturally influencers and some that are followers. Most of these roles are not yet firmed up. This makes it difficult to know how your adolescent will react to influential friends and or if they will be the influencers that can easily walk away to a risky activity.

In a current study to firm what we already know or suspect, the scholars tested the “association between social influences and drinking Outcomes across three years”.

The results were that the social relationships play a prominent role in substance use onset, remission from, and relapse to alcohol use disorders.

According to the research, close social ties causally will influence subsequent changes in alcohol use. Importantly, according to the research, social networks position on drinking or abstinent were found to exert lasting influence across a 3-year period. This is much higher influence that those of other influential organizations like AA that are focused on sobriety.

These findings are compelling on the importance of having the right social networks for a long term sobriety outcome.

We have seen this play out and especially in areas where there are no sober living homes and people go through a rehab and goes back to the exact neighborhoods, friends and networks that are still using. The success rate is significantly diminished and rehab becomes a revolving door.

How to Recover Drug Addiction Helping Others:

Anyone who was watching TV in the 1990s and early 2000s know the famous program Friends. Mathew Perry was a star in that show making $1million dollars an episode.

In real life, Matthew was suffering an opiate and alcohol addiction. After struggling in and out of rehab, he says “Something clicked….You have to want the help.”

“In love services, only the wounded soldier can serve” Thornton Wilde: After going through addiction and getting help, Matthew turned his former Malibu home into a sober living facility called Perry House. He has become an advocate for drug courts, helping others to overcome similar problems to the ones that he himself faced.

He has a new passion and meaning in life in his current life focusing on other people in need rather than his problems.

This aspect of the power of helping others to get help is a key component in one of the leading nontraditional recovery place, Delancey Street. They believe in everyone being a giver and a receiver. They have a working slogan of “each-one-teach-one”. Dr. Karl Menninger, the founder of the Menninger’s Clinic carried out a long-term study on Delancey Street graduates, the findings demonstrated a “phenomenal success rate of 98%”.

When helping another person gain grounds, you gain perspective on the process as you continue to gain progress in your own recovery. You get to see how far you have come or how far other people have gone, which is encouraging. When wrapped in self, you may not see just how much it took to get where you are and may underestimate how much you have achieved.

Being a cheer leader to others and being needed gives life a new meaning, boosts your esteem and before long, addiction is in the past.

In assisting another person make progress. The rewards are enormous when people you have helped show gratitude and especially when you see them succeed. The new found experience soon replaces any addiction as it becomes a positive passion and gains a significant place in your life.

Addiction is scary when it shows up on your door. Don’t panic, invest in understanding addiction in the family (your family history) and apply the right therapy for yourself or your loved ones for a successful prevention or treatment.

If you have an experience with any of the personality therapy, please share your experience. If you have any comments please leave them below. Would love to hear your thoughts.

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