Insidious in its nature and development, addiction is widely recognized to be a cunning and baffling disease. It can sustain itself in the face of resistance. Despite all the negative changes it brings into a patient’s and the family’s lives, the addictive behaviours persist and a vicious cycle follows. With the best education and counseling provided at Sadaqat Clinic, families can play a significant role in their loved one’s addiction treatment. However, without professional help, they may resort to ways that can in fact aggravate the problem at hand. Here are 8 common mistakes that families make when their loved one is suffering from the disease of addiction.
1. They get frustrated with the patient when he does not fulfill his responsibilities. However, the disease of addiction can leave an individual incapable of managing his fundamental roles. Families must understand that it is unfair of them to expect such responsibilities from an individual suffering from this complex bio-psycho-social-spiritual disease.
2. They think that addiction has “significantly improved” when there merely has been a reduction in drug use or frequency of behavioural outbursts. These reductions or pauses in usage are short-lived. This disease requires a multidisciplinary approach and life-long management for long-term recovery.
3. They make excuses for patient’s inappropriate behaviours (e.g., domestic abuse with spouse, anger outbursts with siblings, etc.). The problem is that family is often in denial as well. By protecting their loved one from experiencing the negative consequences of drug and alcohol use, they are enabling his disease of addiction.
4. They engage in arguments and verbal altercations with the patient. In active addiction, patients are immune from family’s reasoning and rationalizations for seeking treatment. Decreased inhibition and rebelliousness are also behavioural characteristics of addiction that further affect patient’s ability to listen to his family.
5. They seek help from people who lack adequate knowledge regarding the disease concept of addiction. This includes consulting with friends and relatives. Families must understand that the patient needs help from medical personnel who are well-versed in this field. Friends are unable to provide evidence-based strategies.
6. They take patient’s comments personally and begin to doubt their own sanity. This leads to cracks in their relationship with their loved one, which proceed long after the patient stops using drugs and alcohol. For this reason, families often need counseling and treatment, alongside the patient, to mend this relationship.
7. They keep the patient out of trouble e.g., get him out of legal problems. This is another example of enabling behaviours. By keeping him from seeing the link between his addictive behaviours and negative implications of them, the patient remains ignorant and continues abusing drugs and alcohol.
8. They try to find solutions on their own and do not seek professional help. Consulting friends, trying out non-scientific treatments, and interpreting the disease as a punishment from God only serves to exacerbate the disease of addiction.
Knowing these 8 mistakes that families of addicts make are very important as they occur in almost every household that gets hit with the disease of addiction. Sadaqat Clinic, the best rehabilitation centre in Karachi, Islamabad, and Murree, helps families by training them on tough love principles and appropriate methods of approaching the patient, with the overarching goal of improving the patient’s and family’s quality of life.