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Posted by Susan on 13 September 2014.

An addict is afflicted with a disease called addiction. A disease that there is no medication for and comes in many different forms. There are various theories as to what causes the disease and the cause maybe different for different individuals.

The reality is that it is a disease that affects those around as well. It is not a contagious disease like some but it is unique that it will affect those closely attached to the individual suffering from the disease. Those people will develop their own sickness of second hand addiction, leading to enabling, guilt, dysfunctional relationships, co dependency and often depression.

Reading the symptoms outlined in this following article, I think most of us who have been in any dysfunctional relationship, can agree that we have felt these feelings at one time or another.

Low Self Esteem
People Pleasing
Poor Boundaries
Dysfunctional Communication
Problems with Intimacy
Painful Emotions
This is not an easy list of "symptoms" to be living with and unfortunately development of co dependency is often a long process, but trying to move out of co dependency is even longer for some. It is a draining and challenges process.

I think a common misconception of those who have not been  personally affected by a loved one being an addict, believes that if that addict seeks or accepts help and enters some form of rehabilitation which may lead to recovery, than the problem is solved. Conversely, families or spouses who have finally made the extremely difficult decision to cut ties with  the addict they love because that addict is not ready for positive change, still get a similar reaction from "outsiders" that they can now live a "normal" life again.

What is often neglected when we speak of addicts and their recovery, or their continued addict lifestyle, is that in either cases, the family/loved ones they affected are in recovery. Obviously there are support groups such as Al-Anon, however, that is still a minority when you look at society and the people we all still need to be in contact on a regular basis. They just don't get it. Life does not magically change when the addict you love leaves or goes into rehab!

My daughters and I are still unsure what the future hold. We do not know how things will pan out with my son. We undoubtedly, feel less stressed and on edge at home; however, we struggle with normality and making any positive changes. Sometimes we feel the need to lash out because we feel angry or frustrated but don't really understand why. We avoid all mention of "him", and when I speak on the phone with him or mention him then my older daughter becomes visibly distressed. There is still a sense of fear but now the fear is less actual and more ambiguous. There is still a sense of dread and depression lingering about and it is hard to see a different life ahead, but not for the lack of trying. We are only in the very early stages of recovery and we will need to not only restructure our daily routines but our thought process and removes some triggers at home, such as the broken banister and doors with huge holes in them as well as redecorating "his" room...all reminders of more volatile days.

Before we take on any big DIY projects in the home (which I can not afford presently), we have started small. We are trying to remind ourselves that despite having overcome so many hardships, stressful and scary times, we have things to be grateful for. We now each have a "Grateful Diary". Every night before going to bed, we write down 3 things that we were grateful for today. My youngest started first and then I joined in a few days later. Much to the dismay of my less than enthusiastic 14 year old daughter, she has now started two nights ago. My youngest, without prompting was dutifully writing in her book for a good few days, had expressed how helpful she thinks it is because "it makes you think about the good stuff, and you feel happier"

We are a family in recovery. We love an addict and who continues to use and live in denial. Nevertheless, we are a family in recovery and I can only hope that my son will also enter his own recovery one day, but at this point in time I need to focus on our own recovery along with my daughters and start to slowly rebuild our lives.


14 Sep 2014

Thank you Susan for sharing....will take sone of these ideas away, and utilise with our family, and addicted son working hard to stay clean.....63 days clean with 1 relapse......praying he stays strong and continues learning to live without drugs/alcohol........

14 Sep 2014

Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment as well "can't take no more".  I also have an addicted son, yet he has not been able to stay clean only while in a 7 day detox at the hospital, then he went straight back on to whatever he could get his hand on! Addiction is painful and takes it's toll on all of the family! I am so happy to read that your son is 63 days clean! I wish him continued success and hopefully he will continue to grow in strength as well. I wish all of you recovery and eventually new beginnings!

14 Sep 2014

Hi Susan,

That is so moving and inspirational.  That must really help so many other families see that they aren't alone.  I'm pleased that you are in recovery, and if you need or want any more help please don't hesitate to get in touch with The Icarus Trust.  They are trained people who can help you in anyway you need.  You can get in touch on their website ( or email them on

I wish the very best for you and your family.

14 Sep 2014

Thank you very much Icarus_Trust! This post was actually written a while ago, from my blog, but as a family we are trying very hard to find some  recovery even though my son is ready to. As a family we must try to stop the guilt and anger and dysfunction we have all become too familiar with and start to begin again! Thank you so much for your kind comment, I have bookmarked your website!

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