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Is addiction a family disease?

I’ve always been a person who believed that no matter what the struggle, at some point you pull up your boot straps and get the job done. When my daughter first went into in-patient rehab, I was very offended when I heard addiction was a family disease. I didn’t appreciate or understand words like enabling, controlling, or recovery. I thought rehab was going to fix my daughter not point a finger towards me!

As the years have passed my understanding has grown. I’ve learned that addiction isn’t merely a string of bad choices my daughter made. Addiction isn’t overcome by self will alone. I’ve learned what it means to hear that addiction is a family disease because addiction consumed my life as well. I’ve learned it is not my fault that my daughter is an addict. I’ve learned there is nothing I could have done or not done to alter the direction of her life. I learned my daughter needed space to uncover the path of her own journey and that it was not my job to clear the path for her. She alone is responsible for her recovery.

So where did this leave me? As I took a step back from my daughter’s addiction, I found that my life had become like a hamster, running as fast as I could in circles, trying to find a solution that would trigger a response in my daughter towards healing. Instead of helping her, I was damaging myself. I lost my joy, energy, and sleep. Other important relationships in my life were negatively impacted. I spent money I didn’t have trying to get her help. I began to see that I needed to alter the direction of my own life. I needed to recover from addiction as much as my daughter did. It’s funny as I look back, I started seeing a therapist to help my know how to help my daughter. He taught me why my soul was in need of change.

Back to the question, is addiction a family disease? Yes, because addiction wraps its claws around every single person in the family. In my family, we were each effected differently. My road to recovery has been in finding myself again. I am the mom of an addict, but that doesn’t define who I am or how I live my life.

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