Addiction can have enormous impacts on a person’s life, but we often fail to think about how it affects a person’s family and friends.
Family can be a strong line of support for people struggling with addiction, but this can also come at a cost to the family members.
Breakthrough, a program to assist families affected by addiction, says that most families navigating a loved one’s addition can bring up ‘feelings of guilt and shame about the role families may have played in their loved one’s behaviour.’
Repeat or repair
However, it’s important to understand that addiction is a chronic health condition, and that several factors can lead to loved ones becoming addicted.
“We know that it can be related to underlying undiagnosed mental health issues [and] underlying trauma,” said Professor Dan Lubman, from Turning Point, an addiction treatment and research centre.
“And we also know there’s a family history, that there’s a genetic component. We have really strong evidence showing that the genetic predisposition to developing particularly severe alcohol problems, is incredibly strong,” said Professor Lubman.
Understanding how addiction works can help families, as can knowing that treatment is available.
Journalist Amelia Oberhardt has been working hard to break the cycle that can be inflicted by addiction after who own mother struggled with alcohol dependency.
“It is a real health condition. Once we can let people know that it is a health condition, that there are treatments available , we give people that hope. That’s what’s most important in turning things around,” says Professor Lubman.
It’s something that Amelia Oberhardt, host of Secrets We Keep: Shame, Lies and Family also wanted to emphasise.
“One big reason for making this series is that I wanted to change one other person’s outcome, one other person’s relationship with their child, parents or their family,” Amelia said.
“I’ll do everything in my power to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.”
For issues with alcohol and other drugs, you can talk to your GP or contact the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline at 1800 250 015.