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When Your Substance Use Disorder Makes You Feel Like The "Ne'Er-Do-Well" Of The Family

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When you have a substance use disorder, your family may treat you differently and make your recovery that much harder. Here are some common behaviors and how to deal with them so you can focus on overcoming your addiction and moving on with your life.

Common Family Problems When You Are In Recovery

They confide in others and embarrass you.

You notice that friends and extended family also treat you differently. They are less trusting, open and may even be openly derisive. You can't avoid noticing the chill and know that your close family members have been talking to them about your problem. This can make you feel betrayed and embarrassed.

They watch and question you incessantly.

They go through your stuff; they question your whereabouts and your friends, and generally make you feel self-conscious and untrustworthy. They may continue enabling behaviors like doing things that you should be responsible for, despite your desire to be independent.  Sometimes you even feel like regressing because staying clean and sober seems unrewarding and it is difficult to impress on others how hard you are working to change.

Despite a significant period of abstinence, they still treat you like an addict.

Many people buy into the myth that addiction always is a lifelong problem but the facts show that many short-term users do quit and put their substance abuse behind them.  For persons with a long-term drug or alcohol abuse problem, lapses are common, so it is important to recognize and change deeply imbedded behaviors through appropriate treatment. However, you may be aware that many people are successful following treatment and go on to live substance free lives – you just wish your family would believe this.

They elevate other members of the family over you.

In families, it is normal for members to take on various roles, but in dysfunctional families a member can get stuck in a negative role that they can't seem to break out of no matter how hard they try. Your family may constantly remind you of incidents where you made minor or serious mistakes while they may also talk incessantly about another sibling's successes and positive traits.

They sabotage your efforts, since your change is uncomfortable to them.

When you try to break out of your negative role, your efforts may be unacknowledged or even hindered. Other family members may be subconsciously afraid of the changing circumstances in the family order and try to sabotage you, since they know they will have to make changes too. This is very common problem for spouses, especially if you are unwittingly displaying some attitudes or behaviors that are difficult to cope with.

Personal and Family Therapy

Your family situation will take time and patience to resolve. Even if you managed to kick your substance abuse on your own, you may need to consider private counseling to get needed support for confronting difficult issues, help you cope with lingering effects of addiction, help you work on improving your reputation, self-esteem and self-reliance, and also resist relapsing.

You need to get clear in your own mind about what behaviors your family are engaging in that are the most troubling for you so that you can have some frank discussions to improve the situation.

Family counseling is recommended by many drug treatment professionals for good reasons, which include

  • helping you to express your feelings about your role in the family that could be damaging to your recovery.
  • educating family members about the chances that you can recover and continue to be clean and sober.
  • showing your family how they can get the support they need without harming your reputation and making you feel bad. For long-term support, 12-step groups can help them express their feelings, problems, and frustrations in a confidential atmosphere, and they can learn ways to cope effectively by listening to other group members.
  • helping your family adjust to your changes in outlook and get acquainted with a sober/clean version of you.
  • helping everyone involved learn new communication patterns.
  • helping family to rebuild trust, be forgiving, and overcome enabling behaviors.

So, to recap: pinpoint the family behaviors that are harmful to your self-esteem and recovery. Consider getting personal and family counseling to improve the situation. And be patient and persevere. For more tips and advice, contact a company like Ocean Addiction Recovery Services, LLC.