“Addiction is a family disease. As family members we try and make the situation seem normal even though the situation is completely abnormal.”
The quote is from Trish Colangelo, the founder of our Family Educational Program at Clearbrook. Trish has been working with family members for over 40 years in treatment centers and the programs of Al-Anon. She has been instrumental in helping to put families back together that were shred to pieces from the disease of addiction.
Why is addiction called a family disease? The reason; because alcoholism and chemical dependency take a family and break apart the family dynamic, the peace, the serenity, and all the trust. There are so many intertwined, negative consequences in a family where an addict/alcoholic are involved. No family member ever dreamed of having a life like they have. We lie to members of our family, friends, and employers to cover the person who’s using. We often times do that because somewhere in the back of our minds we believe that the situation will get better. That the person that we love is going to stop using drugs and alcohol and come back to reality. We protect these people because we love them and we are also concerned with what people will think about us.
When an active addict in a home with children it becomes even more devastating. Children grow up seeing their parents fight. They see one of their parents not coming home or getting arrested. When alcohol and drugs are being used children realize that. We have spoken to many “adult children of alcoholics” who have testified that when they would see mom or dad with alcohol in their hands they were terrified. They have told us that their lives were totally controlled by it. Then there are the people who have told us that the only time they ever felt comfortable was when their parents were under the influence. Every person experiences different feelings when it comes to their immediate families. The point is that the chemical the person was using was governing their lives, even as children.
There is a solution for the family. We have witnessed families recover together through our “Families Helping Families” program at Clearbrook. There are behaviors that need to be addressed. Most times the families that we speak to don’t even realize that they are exhibiting behaviors that are detrimental to their mental and physical health. We want to help the family members as much as we want to help the person suffering from addiction here. Watching someone get sober and the family following suit is a miracle to witness.