Alcoholism is often referred to as a ‘family disease’, and not merely because the disorder is hereditary. Alcoholism greatly impacts the stability of the home while devastating the mental and emotional health of everyone involved. The disease works to destroy family unity and enhance dysfunction, deeply marring long-standing family dynamics – sometimes to the point of complete abolition.
Living with an active alcoholic can put the family under a significant amount of stress. Healthy family functioning is often interrupted by unsettling events and experiences. Daily routines rapidly crumble as the family works together to accommodate the invasive and unwelcome disease, Meanwhile, the alcoholic seemingly ignores the wreckage, clinging desperately to a deep-seated, selfish denial. The family may play their own part in the denial of reality, as they frantically attempt to maintain a certain family order in light of the rapidly increasing chaos. Eventually, the entire family system becomes completely absorbed by the issue at hand, which continues to spin further and further out of control. Emotional pain is denied and ignored, small issues are blown out of proportion, and major issues are minimized and hidden from the rest of the world. Yes, alcoholism certainly is a ‘family disease’, and it has the potential to irreparably destroy the entire family unit if it is swept under the rug and left untreated.
Alcoholism and The Family
There are several support groups geared exclusively towards helping the friends and family members of those suffering from alcoholism or addiction, such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon. These support groups often play a fundamental role in forming connections with others who are in the same boat, and can be extremely beneficial in teaching family members to better navigate day-to-day life with an addicted loved one. However, professional therapy is often necessary to fully healing the family and restoring healthy functioning – on an individual level.
Not only does individual therapy assist in restoring mental health (seeing as the devastation caused by addiction within the family can be mentally shattering for all involved), but it also works to improve communication amongst family members while rebalancing misaligned dynamics. Individual therapy provides family members with a safe place to express their anger and work through other related emotions, while exploring how the presence of alcoholism or addiction has upset their mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. Additionally, individual therapy may be beneficial in preventing the children of addicted parents from succumbing to the disease themselves later on down the line.
Emotional Healing Takes Time
It is important to remember that emotional recovery of any kind is not an overnight process – often, thoroughly healing from the devastation of alcoholism takes years of conscious reparation. It is entirely possible for those suffering from alcoholism as well as their partners, children, friends, and family members to achieve mental, emotional, and spiritual health – in fact, with intensive therapy and the support of an outside group such as Al-Anon, family functioning may very well become far more fulfilling and advantageous then it ever was before. We at Next Chapter offer an extensive family program, geared towards helping improve overall family functioning while allowing each family member to heal individually. Families will learn to provide nurturing support to their loved one without enabling or compounding the issue – a delicate balance that takes much therapeutic work and practical application.
Our Family Program – Next Chapter
It may feel at times like alcoholism has done irreparable damage to the family unit – like things have fallen so far away from the functional norm that no amount of therapeutic treatment will make any kind of lasting positive impact. It is normal to feel hopeless and disheartened in the face of a disease as powerful and unforgiving as addiction, though we at Next Chapter have seen even the most crippled families make complete and miraculous recoveries. For more information on our Family Program, please feel free to contact us today.