When looking into a drug and/or alcohol program for a family member or loved one, one of the biggest questions people have is "do you offer any family support?" Many drug and alcohol treatment facilities will offer family week or evening classes to help family members understand their loved ones' "addiction". Some treatment programs also claim that family support groups can educate and increase awareness therefore preventing the "transmission of the disease down family lines".
Surely this idea could be effective if "addiction" was a communicable disease or even a disease at all. The truth is, alcohol and drug abuse are choices. There is no doubt that, at times, families are in desperate need of help. Drug and alcohol abuse can take its toll on the entire family unit. Family members begin to feel guilt and responsibility for the choices their loved one is making.
In reality, it is not the family's fault for the choices each individual makes. As humans we all make choices everyday. Whether they are good or bad, they are still thought up and then executed by the individual. Granted, the choices we make can be influenced by the actions of others but again, the individual chooses how to then act or react.
Family members of someone who abuses drugs or alcohol want, so desperately, to see their loved one happy and productive. At times, it is unbearable to see the person they love unwilling to change. Therefore families try very hard to support their loved one by attending meetings, family counseling and therapy. In some cases, family counseling is helpful in mending emotions and relationships, especially in situations that have exhausted every aspect of the family. Families can sometimes benefit from a neutral, third party mediator to oversee discussions and conflict resolutions. However, this benefit is dependent on the competence of the therapist, and in many cases this quality is sorely lacking.
People who abuse drugs and/or alcohol and who recognize the need for a lifestyle change can use the support and love from their families. Although love and support are good things, it is up to the individual to get, and stay, sober. Unfortunately, many times, drug and alcohol abusers will search for excuses and scapegoats for their "addictions". They look to blame their behavior on everyone and everything without taking responsibility for their actions.
The best and most effective support families dealing with a drug or alcohol abuser can receive is encouragement and strength through educating themselves as to what alcohol and drug abuse really is, and that is, it is a choice based problem. Then, the best support families can give to their loved one is holding them responsible for their own choices and decisions and teaching them to be accountable for their own actions and the outcomes their actions produce.