Watching a family member suffer from addiction is very difficult. It’s important to find a way to deal with your feelings around the problem. There are ways to work as a family to support each other and help each other cope with the problem.
Addiction is a complicated illness and manifests itself differently in different people. To best help your teen understand what is going on, educate them on addiction and inform them on the specifics of the family member’s illness. The more your teen understands, the easier it will be for them to deal with their feelings.
Families living with an addict often experience the shutting down and freezing of communication lines, causing more problems than there were to start. Keep the lines of communication open and let your teen know they come to you with any concerns or questions, or if they just need someone to talk to. Likewise, you should keep them updated on any news of the addiction—communication is a two-way street.
There are services available for families, children and parents of addicts to help cope with the stress of the situation. Whether a family member is actively living with an addiction, is in rehab, or on the recovery path, there are community counseling services available to people who need extra support. Don’t be afraid to reach out or let your teen know that this is an option.
Your teen is likely to have a lot of questions and concerns about what’s going on, and it’s important that you as a parent remain strong for them. This will be challenging, given you are experiencing the same family member’s addiction, but it is possible. Support services are there for you if need be. We all need to lean on each other in times of need.
If the home environment is unsafe or extremely negative due to the addiction, it may be best to remove your child from the home and have them stay at a friend or relative’s house until things become under control. A negative environment involving an addict can be very stressful for a child and is not something they need to experience. Being in such an environment will not help them to cope and could lead to them running away or acting out.