How Addiction Affects the Whole Family
Kerri Cunningham, program director at Victory Addiction Recovery Center, shares her thoughts about Sam Fowler’s recent TED Talk about addiction as a family disease.
Frequently, the first inquiry call we get is from a family member of an addict or alcoholic. The family is in fear and does not know what to do. They don’t even know what to tell us.
In this video, Sam Fowler articulates what the families are going through. I want families to know that there are other families like them. That they are different and that there is support. That they don’t have to live in the darkness. This is why we have built in so many family components to treatment, including family care support on Thursday nights, family week for our inpatient program, and family night monthly for our outpatient program. We refer and connect the families to individual counseling, if necessary, with therapists who have experience with what they are going through. Today, we were able to assist a patient’s family in Edina, Minnesota, and San Francisco, California, with resources through our network of business development representatives across the country.
The progression of the illness as it relates to families is frequently overlooked or missed because of the chaos that occurs with the family member who is using. The family sees their lives and problems as minor or burdensome because of the severity of issues with the addict.
Sam shares her journey of emotion that many families wish they were able to identify. The daily fear, then anxiety, chronic anxiety, chronic depression, self harm, suicidal thoughts…these families have hidden in the darkness and blamed themselves. We want to help them learn about this disease. We want to help them treat how addiction has impacted them. They are not alone and deserve treatment, too.
Sometimes when a clinician tells a family that addiction isn’t our fault, we don’t get it. But Sam is a sweet little sister who “shouldn’t have to deal with the monster of addiction.” It’s easy to see that it’s not her fault. Hopefully families can see some of themselves in her.
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