Finding Balance in Family Life with an Addicted Child

Couple struggling with sexual addiction

Contributor: Candace Sindoris, LCSW, LSATP, CACIII, Private Practice in Fort Collins, CO, email [email protected]

couple-405746_640First of all, let me state that finding balance in family life with an addicted child is very difficult. It takes a lot of self-discovery and addiction knowledge on the part of all family members to begin the process of finding and defining what family life balance would even look like.

As every person is unique, so is how addiction transforms a person in all areas – socially, emotionally, and physically. It is like a person trying to clear a path covered with obstacles that seem to reappear even after they have been eliminated by that person.

Finding Balance

Balance is the combination of hope and reality, infused with optimism and perseverance, combined to create and obtain even a short period of homeostasis. According to Google, one of the definitions of balance is to “keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.”

Isn’t that also true of a parent’s wish for their child whether addicted or not? So the real question is how is the family with the addicted child able to find balance?

What are the cornerstones of positive family support, which are not enabling? Within every family is its individual relational dynamic. Ideally, communication is open and honest. Each member is able to be “who they are” and not have to hide and cover their identities and true selves.

Listening and Learning

photographer-410326_640Listening is a very large part of communication and hearing what each member has to say is extremely important for a balanced family dynamic. Addiction breaks the communication circle within a family because of the secrets, pain and disappointments it brings – not only to the family, but also the addicted child.

Each family member must strive to “hear” what the others, including the addicted child, have to say (e.g., their struggles, hurts, plans, values, goals, etc.). This sharing is instrumental in creating and strengthening their emotional bonds. This strength in bonding can provide a foundation requisite to providing support for the recovery process.

Finding Accurate Information

Another aspect of achieving family balance is knowledge. Each family member needs accurate information on the addiction process in general and also in the specific area of the addiction.

Knowing the progression of addiction, signs and symptoms, boundary skills, and the recovery process will provide a pathway for each individual to reach equilibrium within their lives whether or not the addicted child achieves sobriety.

Families can be very resilient in facing addiction chaos if they have the necessary skills. These skills not only include communication/listening and knowledge, but also the ability to set clear limits regarding what is and is not acceptable within the family structure.

Structure and Consistency

alone-21279_640It is very important to provide structure and consistency within the family having an addicted child. The structure provides security and consistency supports the mutual respect with regard to limitations and consequences that are known by every member even prior to situations occurring.

Most addicts have difficulty with self-regulation skills including time management and impulsivity. With strong limit setting, it will offer the addicted child and others the ability to be “wrapped” in a blanket of caring and safety within the family.

Thus, the family becomes a strong unit based upon emotional bonding, clear communication, addiction knowledge, and clear boundary setting which will carry them throughout their lifetime into a more peaceful and balanced mindfulness.

Stress Reduction

Another area that needs to be addressed when trying to find balance within a family who has an addicted child is stress reduction. If stress is not addressed, the entire family might become traumatized by the unhealthy, negative relational environment created by the addiction.

The trauma can then affect each member differently – physiologically, psychologically, socially, and/or emotionally. If this trauma is overlooked and/or disregarded the members can experience fundamental regulation issues including:

  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Sadness through depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger

The family members can become socially isolated through the extinction of outside relationships.

Stress Reduction Techniques

feet-438420_640The use of different stress reducers are as varied as there are people. Some incorporate exercise, music, reading, participating in hobbies, etc. as the list can go on forever. The important thing is that whatever satisfies the reduction of stress, each of the family members needs to do it – their way.

Another stress reducer is one of self-discovery into the member’s own value system. Reflecting on what is important to them and the affirmations around that value. The promotion of the positives in one’s life and strengthening those creates more harmony and thus balance.

Professional Treatment

Finally and very importantly, the choice of a treatment facility and/or addiction counselor is paramount to the recovery of the addict and the maintaining of balance within the family. Treatment that includes both the addict and the family is a priority to ensure longer lasting results.

Defining individual and family goals with a clear path of achieving them will promote strong and positive outcomes. Being able to have professional support through the addiction recovery will strengthen the family as a unit, encourage and support the healing process within family members, and help the reclamation of balance and relationships to occur.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What is your experience with finding balance in your family with an addicted child?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 20th, 2014
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.