8608470538_526fbf5d95-1Alcoholism and drug addiction is so prevalent in our society. And many people don’t know what addiction is. Many people think people are addicted only if it involves illegal drugs. Or, they believe that alcoholics are only the ones who lose their jobs from drinking. Not true. People who merely abuse substances to the point of having any negative impact on their lives or the lives of their families can be considered an alcoholic or addict. (The words alcoholic and addict are used interchangeably because whether the substance is legal or illegal drugs, or alcohol, the disease is the same in everyone.)

The disease of alcoholism/addiction has a far reach beyond just the actual addict or drinker. The disease impacts those who surround the alcoholic/addict in any way. The addiction disease has a particularly strong impact on family members.

So if you are in a relationship with a problem drinker, or if you have a family member who is an addict, there are 5 major ways that this disease affects you.

1. You become more controlling.

It is normal for this disease to make family members feel anxious or overwhelmed. Because of this, the family member usually becomes more controlling of their environment. For example, if you are a boss at a company, and your spouse has a drinking problem, you might overmanage your employees. You might channel that control need into making  more and more rules and restrictions for your employees. If you are a parent, you may do this with your kids, managing their relationships, etc.

2. You become anxious, more easily overwhelmed.

You will worry more in general about everyone you care about.If you are a mom or a dad, you may be overly focused on your child. You start wanting to make them happy at all costs and you become overly worried if something goes wrong for them at school. Work is more difficult. Everything gets harder.

3. Think you can help when you can’t.

People who are in relationships with substance abusers will often try harder and harder to “make” the addict/alcoholic happy. They will work hard to do whatever it takes to “make them okay” so the drinker or user won’t need to drink. Sadly, this will not help. Addiction has nothing to do with someone’s environment. Even if a substance abuser likes to blame their difficult work or the messy house,etc, these are just excuses.

4. Become fixated on the other persons behavior.

Wondering and worrying about things like, ” Will ____ drink tonight?” “What if  they drive? How will it be at home if ____happens?” These worries become a fixation in the person’s mind. It leads to self neglect and then this cycle repeats over and over.

5. Denial

If your loved one is a substance abuser, it is normal to go into denial. Remember that woman who killed her children and several other people after driving with  10 drinks in her system? Her family says they knew nothing about it. Denial is a powerful partner to this disease. Even loving parents will turn a blind eye. It prevents family members from seeing or doing what needs to be done to protect those you love.

Give Away Girl Takeaway: Even if you are just the friend of an addict, or grew up with an addict who is in recovery, the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction have tentacles with deep impact. Anyone in any kind of a relationship with someone who is addicted has to be touched by this disease. Give Away Girls are no exception. In fact, because of the Give Away Girls’ altruistic and kind tendencies, they often connect with substance abusers.  Contact a counselor or a 12 step program such as Al-Anon if you are in this situation. Learn about codependency. Help is out there.

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