The Family Perspective of Addiction

Much is written about those who have an addiction be it alcohol, drugs or a combination of both and the afflicted person can be treated and rehabilitated successfully.


But what of the family and friends of the addicted person?

Someone who often no longer resembles the person they love and care about?  What help is there for them – or do they even need help? At Silkworth we believe that giving help to the families and friends of anyone who suffers addiction is a vital service not only to the family members but to the addict as well, whether or not they are in treatment. Where there is addiction, a family can often question their own sanity being unsure of what is going on and may even think or say to themselves, I am going mad!”  This is the power of addiction and the table below demonstrates some of its effects.

*Where there is a co-existing illness/disorder diagnosis, treatment is more effective when the afflicted person is abstinent.


A solution for the family with the Silkworth Family Programme

Over the last couple of years, Silkworth has established a successful programme in helping the family to understand the problems they face because of chemical addiction, how they can help themselves and how they can find a way of seeing the person rather than just seeing the addiction.  We know that education about addiction is necessary and that helping the family understand how they are caught in the power of addiction can free them as well as their loved ones.

In the same way that nobody chooses to have a mental illness, nobody chooses to become an addict.  Through our family process, this is fully understood and appreciated bringing about a sense of compassion and collaborative support for the chemically dependent or anyone new to recovery from addiction.


The importance of relationship, connection and belonging for all

The importance of connected, healthy relationships and giving a sense of belonging is essential for a successful recovery both for the person suffering from an addiction and the family and friends trying to support them.  For all parties, it will be about overcoming the possible barriers to relationship and connection such as shame, stigma, blame, issues of trust and anger together with social isolation.  The family is as equally affected as the addicted person and sometimes more so as they are not anaesthetised with chemicals.

Attendees at our Family Programme have found untapped resources, mutual support and understanding from others in similar situations.  By providing a supportive environment in which to talk openly and candidly – sometimes for the first time ever, a true sense of hope that is life-changing and enhancing is discovered.

We know that the restoration of a family is a family affair.  We know, too, that recovery in the family makes life safer and saner, regardless of what the addicted person does (or doesnt do).


Myriad of relationships treated through the Family Programme and their thoughts

At the Silkworth Family Programme, we have had mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, son-in-laws, aunties, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, partners, boyfriends, girlfriends and friends.  Some of their reflections on the process are:

I understand that I am trying to control and am enabling my partner – I need to stop.”
– Partner of an alcoholic

Totally understand the power of addiction. Even though I worked hard to help my daughter I was in a complete fog and heading in the wrong direction.  This course has cleared the fog.”
– Father with a daughter in treatment

Too many good things came out of this process for me to write here.” 
– Friend of a relapsing alcoholic

I was very impressed with the course and feel much better equipped to face the problems of the future. I also feel much more relaxed about alcoholism generally and understand a lot more about the illness. It has been very comforting to discuss different situations and how to handle them and also to be aware that there is a lot of help available.”
– Mother of an active alcoholic


Ongoing Support

We do not just provide a course to empower attendees to understand the power of addiction but also provide a weekly support group to help them keep in touch with their newfound skills and be in a community that understands them.  This helps give invaluable support when times are difficult or when celebrating the break-through with others who have been in a similar place and understand it without passing judgment.  It is self-care that continues to promote recovery from an illness that blights a family and relationships.  It gives ongoing support towards solutions to a very difficult problem for all parties affected – the family, friends, employees and the addict themselves.

Silkworth Charity Group cares about families and the community,  providing services that are vested in solutions for the benefit of all.

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