When addiction invades a family, it hits every member in one way or another. Lives are thrown into a type of chaos that affects health, emotions, finances and relationships. A sibling, a parent, a spouse or a child might manage to step back from the addict’s behaviours and get on with their own life. Others make it their life’s mission to stand by the addict, come what may. Either decision is hard, and comes at a price that is only understood by those living at the centre of the storm.
Addiction is often perceived as a modern-day problem, reflecting a general decline in society over the last 50 years. Communities are not as cohesive as they were. Families live far apart because of work. Rights seem to trump responsibilities. But it is not new – lives have always been ruined by substance abuse. The 19th Century Brontë sisters struggled to deal with brother Branwell, a violent, alcoholic drug addict. As the sisters were busy writing classics such as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, Branwell was living the typical life of an addict whose choices have a dire impact on the rest of the household. Indeed, their story could be happening in any town in the UK today.
Here and now, families and communities are suffering more than ever from the fallout of addiction: homelessness, criminality, family breakdown and worklessness are everywhere to be seen. Our town centres are full of rough sleepers; repeat offending is rife; prisons are full of drugs; alcohol is available 24/7; homes are full of despair. Without radical political will, it is hard to imagine how the situation can ever improve, and you might even be forgiven for thinking things can only get worse.
So, what can you as an individual do? If you happen to love an addict, you might know that you cannot influence their choices. You cannot make them go into rehab, get clean, get a job or be normal, as those decisions need to reached by them, in their own time. You can, however, change your own life by seeking help from people who are in the same boat as you. Families Out Loud offers professional counselling, as well as support group sessions which are full of experts who are walking in your shoes and learning to deal with it better. We are currently helping over 50 families of addicts to take back control and start living again. So, if you live in Wiltshire get in touch to access our support. If you live outside of Wiltshire, see the contact list below for other family support organisations around the UK.
Make a difference for yourself. Talking works. Let’s talk.