Addiction is an illness that affects the whole family system.
• At the early stage of addiction the family members get used to:
o Mood changes
o Lies and deception
o Silent suffering and shame
o Failure to understand the problem as an illness
o Denial mechanisms
• Gradually the addiction becomes chronic and so do the family conflicts:
o Some family members suffer from depressive disorders
o Children present psychological disturbances such as low self-esteem or anxiety.
o Marriage break up
o Domestic violence
o Chronic family dysfunctions
Family support should be made conditional to patient’s adherence to treatment. Taking away affective and economic support in the case that the patient does not collaborate is rather effective in order to accept one’s illness.
It is important that family members:
• Ask for professional information on the illness
• All family members should form a united front to help the patient to accept the problem, avoiding feelings of guilt and weakness.
• Look for the appropriate time to talk to the person, best in the morning and when the person has not taken any substance.
• Confront the person: talk about the problem straight and explain the need for professional help.
• Don’t use moral reasoning.
• Establish a deadline to start the programme.
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