Families suffer from addiction in many ways. Nearly one-third of US families have an addict or alcoholic; a member with a substance abuse problem. One-fourth of these are parents, brothers or sisters.
Fact: Cocaine Addiction is a Family Disease
Families are not responsible for addiction; the addict made the choices. However, three things make it a family disease. First, the tendency to become addicted may be genetically transmitted. As long as the addict suffers, the entire family suffers. This is why addiction professionals consider treatment of the family to be part of the treatment of addiction.
The tendency to become an addict is definitely transmitted genetically. This is supported by research which tracked the incidence of addiction even in people raised away from their families as with adopted children. We have not identified the gene responsible, but there is too much evidence for it to be a "coincidence".
The family suffers from addiction in many ways. Nearly a third of US families have a member with a substance abuse problem. One fourth of these are in the nuclear family, i.e. Parent or sibling. There is more divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, depression, anxiety, and general medical problems in families dealing with addiction. Husbands or wives of addicts suffer more depression and anxiety than others. Children from families with addicts may have behavior academic problems, and suffer from low self esteem and depression and have more trouble with the law. As adults these children may suffer from depression, social maladjustment and have relationship problems. This is true even is the addiction is one generation previous.
If the addict and the family get into recovery, many of these effects will begin to go away within a couple of years. Active participation in the companion 12-step programs such as Al-Anon and Narc-Anon, family therapy, or individual counseling can help with recovery of the whole family from this disease. However, helping families prevent drug and alcohol abuse makes more sense than waiting until they need help with recovery. There is a distinct possibility that there is a genetic component being passed down in these families. Therefore, education, counseling and support may be of prime importance to help them avoid the problems that addiction brings.
There are a number of agencies which can help with this in the US and there are like organizations in most other developed countries. To find an agency in your local area, contact your local state government and they can direct you, or call your local Cocaine Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous for help.
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