Getting Loved Ones into Alcohol Treatment or Drug Treatment

How Addiction Affects the Family

Families can serve as a significant resource for reaching many more addicted individuals and motivating them to enter alcohol or drug treatment. One of the most significant experiences motivating family members to reach out to a therapist or an interventionist for help is the realization that the addicted individual they are living with has become a stranger.

Divorce Rates Significantly Higher from Addiction

It is no secret that addiction is destructive, especially to families.  Research reported in Child Abuse & Neglect focused on 200 parents who were either addicted to alcohol or heroin.  Forty-one percent of these families were found to have cases of child abuse and neglect.[1]  Another study conducted by the Auckland University of Technology found that the addicts “and their families had suffered from various forms of family disruption, such as loss of custody of their children, loss of employment, marital breakdown, physical and psychological abuse, depression and ill health.”[2]

Romantic partnerships are also negatively affected by addiction.  The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy stated, “these partners are often more unhappy than couples who don’t have problems with alcohol or other drugs.”  Addiction within a couple’s relationship often initiates a vicious cycle of fighting and increased substance use due to the stress caused by the conflict.[3]

The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs published the findings of a nationwide study performed by the University of Michigan which tracked the divorce rates among thousands of people who were suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD).  Not surprisingly, they found the “rates of lifetime marital dissolution were significantly higher among those with lifetime AUD (48.3 percent) than in those with no lifetime AUD (30.1 percent).”[4]

Signs of Addiction

The vast majority of parents and spouses who want to get their loved one into treatment report witnessing frightening changes in personality, attitude and behavior. Family members feel that they no longer know their loved ones. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has outlined the physical, behavioral, and psychological warning signs of substance use and abuse.  These include:

  • Worsening physical appearance
  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Loss of interest in activities that the person previously enjoyed
  • Increased secretive or negative (fighting, lying, illegal activities, etc.) behavior
  • Sudden changes in mood[5]

External Motivation for Treatment

Carlo C. DiClemente, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Maryland, and his team published their study, “Motivation for Change and Alcoholism Treatment” in Alcohol Research & Health.  The results showed that the first step in altering behavior involves motivation, which is defined as, “a critical dimension in influencing patients to seek, comply with, and complete treatment as well as to make successful long-term changes.”  The team also found that addicts contemplate and start changing their behaviors based upon external as well as internal influences.[6]

People who have undergone treatment as a legal consequence report the same positive results as those who voluntarily received professional help.

There is a popular misconception that if an addict does not willingly enter treatment, then no real change will be achieved; the individual will continue his or her substance abuse after the program has been completed.  Thankfully, this is not the case.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that “treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.”  They point out that people who have undergone treatment as a legal consequence report the same positive results as those who voluntarily received professional help.[7]


The Importance of Social Support

The importance of social support cannot be understated.  Only a disproportionate number (less than 4.5 percent) of addicted Americans received treatment for their substance abuse disorders in 2013.[8]  A study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that one of the main factors as to why addicts do not enter treatment is negative social support.  Specific reasons include:

  • Fear of losing friends
  • Discouragement from family and friends
  • Bringing shame and embarrassment to the family
  • Loss of reputation[9]

Conversely, positive social support can provide an addict with much-needed encouragement.  Health Psychology published Robin DiMatteo’s study of the effect of social support on addicts’ adherence to a medical therapy program.  Family dynamics was discovered to be crucial to an addict’s dedication to receiving treatment.  Patients with cohesive familial units were 1.75 times more likely to stick to a treatment regimen, while patients with families in conflict were 1.53 times more likely to abandon their therapies.[10]

Treatment Effectiveness

The University of Manchester’s National Drug Evidence Centre led the United Kingdom’s Drug Treatment Outcomes Research Study.  The researchers reported, “The overriding finding from this study is that treatment is associated with a reduction in harmful behaviours that are associated with problem drug use… [as well as] improvements in mental well-being and social functioning.”[11]  In this country, treatment has been found to decrease substance use by 40 to 50 percent.[12]

With substance use reduced and even eliminated, recovering addicts are then able to rebuild their relationships with their families.  A study of parents who are undergoing methadone treatment found that, “parents in recovery [who] focus on both reducing their drug use and improving their parenting skills may have long-term effects on reducing substance use disorders among their male children.”[13]

Let Seaside Palm Beach Help You Help Your Loved One

Witnessing a loved one become tangled in the disease of addiction can be devastating.  Not only do family members feel concerned, but they may also undergo grief in losing who their loved one was before becoming embroiled in addiction. 

If a significant change in your loved one has occurred, do not allow your family to become overwhelmed by despair.  Seaside can help your family in their commitment to getting your loved one back.  At Seaside, the process of alcohol and drug recovery begins by placing focus on the addict as well as on the family.  We offer cutting-edge treatments in a nurturing environment to allow our patients to take control of their lives as well as their alcohol or drug addictions.  Take the first step in helping your loved one by contacting one of our caring counselors today.