Families and Addiction

Families and Addiction

By Ashley Corbaley

When most people hear the word “addiction” they think of being dependent on a substance such drugs or alcohol. There are many substances to which people can be addicted. There are also behaviors that can be addictive. Sometimes we can be addicted to things that are not necessarily bad but, done excessively, may become an addiction.
So what constitutes an addiction? Gregory L. Jantz, PhD , a noted mental health specialist, has said that “the line between activity and addiction lies where an activity that is positive or neutral takes a decidedly negative turn. Whether it is watching Netflix, social media, going to the gym, eating healthy, eating junk food, having sex, or playing video games, each of these activities have a line that crosses into negative territory.” So when an activity we engage in begins to have a significant, negative impact on our lives, we might need to consider the possibility that we have crossed a line from a positive lifestyle or habit into the realm of addiction.
Additionally, it may be hard for us to realize that we are becoming addicted to something. Several of us are addicted to things whether we admit it or not. Oftentimes our addictions start out small but grow slowly overtime threatening to damage our relationship with our families as we become slave to whatever our addiction may be.
In 2004, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reviewed pre-existing literature and found that addiction has different effects on different relationship structures. For example, the affect a father’s addiction can have on his children may be different than the affect his addiction can have on his wife and vice versa. In the cases of substance abuse addictions, children can be forced to compensate for their parent’s addiction by making excuses for their behavior whereas the affect on a spouse is more psychological.
No matter the case, our addictions affect not only ourselves but everyone around us. Those we love most are often hurt the most from our addictions. None of us are perfect. We all have our own battles we are fighting and no matter how much we slip up there is help available. There are recovery programs, doctors, and friends and family members who can give helping hands. The first step is admitting there is something you might need to change in your life and then taking the necessary measures to make that change.

The road to recovery may be long and strenuous but it is worth it. None of us are perfect. However, addictions are binding and damaging, and when we overcome them we will heal and free not only ourselves but our families as well.

If you, or someone you love, are in need of help with addiction recovery there are many resources at your disposal. Look to local clergy and community outreach organizations, find a licensed mental health professional, and find additional help here:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration helpline


Addiction Guide

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