Nav Vikalp Sansthan recognizes the fact that addiction is a family disease. The families suffer as much, if not more, than the alcoholic/addict; therefore Nav Vikalp Sansthan lays special emphasis on the families, which are often neglected.
The Hope Family Support Program; For the families, there are regular classes on Sundays apart from therapy sessions with counsellors and communication exercises with the clients for healthy relationships on a long-term basis.
Alcoholism – Family’s Road to Recovery
Alcoholism is now recognized as a ‘disease’ by leading medical authorities such as WHO (World Health Organization) and modern treatment facilities. Like any disease, alcoholism is characterized by definite symptoms.
One of the symptoms is that it does not affect the alcoholic alone – it is a family disease and those close to the alcoholic are as deeply affected by it, if not more.
‘It is a family disease and those close to the alcoholic are as deeply affected by it, if not more’.
Members of any family operate in a system, wherein they are interdependent and work together for survival and enjoyment. When there is stress, the whole family readjusts and realigns itself to achieve balance and stability.
The family of an alcoholic is a set of hurt and confused people. Though they do not drink, they are nevertheless victimized by alcohol.
A lot of research and study has been done on the subject. Clear symptoms and the variety of roles played out by the family members have been identified.
Just as alcohol affects all areas of the drinker’s life (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social (relationships), the family members go through a roller coaster-like experience that affects all areas of their life.
As the alcoholic is addicted to the bottle, the family becomes obsessed with the alcoholic. Their life revolves around the alcoholic. As the dependent often loses control over the time, quantity and place of drinking, the family experiences a loss of control over their responses.
‘As the dependent often loses control over the control over the time, quantity and place of drinking, the family experiences a loss of control over their responses’.
The alcoholic constantly ‘justifies’ his drinking and blames others for his condition; the family justifies their own irresponsible behaviour and holds the alcoholic responsible for each and every problem in the family. Family members very often throw tantrums just as the alcoholic becomes physically or verbally aggressive.
The alcoholic often feels guilt; the family too feels occasional pangs of guilt. Both try repeated but unsuccessful attempts at change. Both avoid social contacts. Alcoholics suffer from indefinable fears (paranoia) and the family experiences constant lurking fear, due to internalized emotional stress. Low self-esteem is typical of the alcoholic (compensated by grandiose behaviour) and members of his or her family always feel inadequate. Both avoid social contacts.
‘Denial’ is a typical characteristic of alcoholism. Various forms of denial exist in the family – blaming: ” his wife doesn’t care”. This way the parents try and absolve themselves, conveniently transferring the blame to the daughter-in-law. Rather than acknowledge the increasing disability from addiction, as the disease goes wildly out of control, family members often explain away with rationalizations: “he’s drinking due to pressure at office”
When an alcoholic continues drinking, the family ironically enables him to continue his addiction. In their attempts to help the alcoholic, the family members will unwittingly enable the drinking by:
Taking over the alcoholic’s responsibilities Rescuing them from tight situations Making excuses on their behalf Providing money or shelter This way, the alcoholic is never allowed to face the consequences of their behaviour, and thus does not feel the need for recovery.
Modern treatment facilities offer a recovery program for the family members while the alcoholic is in treatment. This way the entire family is empowered to begin the tough journey on the ‘road to recovery’. The goal of treatment is to make the family whole and healthy again. As a leading expert puts it- “Addiction is a family problem, and recovery a family responsibility”