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How to Break the Familial Addiction Cycle

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Addiction affects millions of people all over the world, and these numbers aren’t solely relegated to those directly struggling with addiction. These millions of people include families that are affected by addiction. The familial addiction cycle must be given more attention. It is also a cycle, with the right tools and treatments, that can be broken.

Understanding Addiction as a Disease

It is the consensus among most medical and addiction recovery professionals that addiction is a disease, and not just any disease; a “chronic” disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Addiction is a lot like other diseases, such as heart disease. Both disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of an organ in the body, both have serious harmful effects, and both are, in many cases, preventable and treatable. If left untreated, they can last a lifetime and may lead to death.”

The disease theory of addiction has put to rest many of the antiquated concepts of addiction from the past. These are ideas like addiction as some sort of moral failing or addiction as a “choice.” No, addiction affects the brain in such a way that without some form of proper professional intervention will almost always invariably get worse rather than better. The same can be said about addiction as a family disease.

Understanding Addiction as a Family Disease

A reasonable metaphor regarding family addiction is that addiction turns the individual struggling into a “tornado,” and the family of that individual as “wreckage in their wake.” The reality is that addiction can destroy families if not treated promptly and properly.

According to the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, “Many studies and reports document the adverse effects of substance use disorders (SUDs) on the family system and individual members, including children. These disorders clearly affect many people in addition to the individual with the problem, often creating a burden for the family and its members.” It is also true that addiction does not always “show up” out of nowhere. Addiction can be genetic and it can also be passed down behaviorally. This is the familial cycle of addiction.

Understanding the Familial Addiction Cycle

The familial cycle of addiction has to do with the reality that addiction can run in a family. There have been many studies that have now found addiction to run genetically within families.

According to NIDA, “By combing through genomic data of over 1 million people, scientists have identified genes commonly inherited across addiction disorders, regardless of the substance being used. This dataset – one of the largest of its kind – may help reveal new treatment targets across multiple substance use disorders, including for people diagnosed with more than one. The findings also reinforce the role of the dopamine system in addiction, by showing that the combination of genes underlying addiction disorders was also associated with regulation of dopamine signaling.” Now, it should also be noted that just because there is addiction in a family’s history, this does not mean that addiction will be passed on.

However, people aware of addiction that runs in their family should be more cautious of alcohol and substance use. This is especially true, as the previous article points out, given that active addiction can continue to change genetic chemistry. Also, people dealing with active addiction within the family should be aware of the options they have to combat it.

How to Break the Familial Addiction Cycle

One of the best ways to break the familial addiction cycle is to immediately address addiction issues when they happen. Yes, this includes getting the individual directly struggling with addiction help, but it also means getting the entire family the help they need.

One option for breaking the familial cycle of addiction is entering some type of family treatment. This often involves the struggling individual getting direct help while the family begins family therapy (though individuals in the family often attend private therapy as well). When the individual is farther along in their recovery, they can then join the rest of the family in the healing process.

Another way to break the familial cycle of addiction is to connect to a recovery community that works directly with family members dealing with addiction. Prime examples of one of these communities are Al-Anon (for families) and Al-Ateen (for children affected by addiction). These communities offer essential support and understanding throughout the recovery process. It is also recommended that the individual directly struggling with addiction connect with a recovery community as well (such as 12-Step recovery).

Healing the Whole Family at Lantana Recovery

Since addiction is a “family disease,” it requires a “family solution.” That is why we here at Lantana Recovery make it a point to treat the whole family and guide them toward long-term recovery.

Recovery is a journey, never a destination, and for many that journey will involve the whole family. Because when the whole family travels the road to recovery, there’s no telling the amazing places they will reach together.

Yes, many people understand that addiction is a disease. However, many people are still unaware that addiction is also a family disease. It can also be passed down from parent to child and through generations. This is why addiction recovery also often requires healing the entire family. If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or co-occurring disorder, we can help get you on the right road to recovery right away. For more information about how treatment and recovery, along with the entire family getting help, can break the familial addiction cycle, please reach out to Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.