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Substance Abuse in Families


Substance Abuse is a serious disease that continues to threaten the fabric of our community. As we look throughout society, there are many examples of substance abuse and the collateral damage that it leaves. If not careful, the family of a substance abuser can be swallowed by the collateral damage. With no preexisting knowledge or tools, substance abuse of a loved one can leave a family helpless. There are, however, tools that can help family members in this state.
To begin, a family that educates themselves on the disease of addiction gathers tools necessary to fight the many extremes of those suffering from substance abuse. Education can help a family with the extremes by giving them information on recovery, sobriety and even relapse. Education on the disease of addiction can help families understand how the disease operates, how it affects neurological pathways and the eventual role a family member can play in recovery. This education can be gained through an array of methods, books, magazines, web articles, or a treatment facility.
A treatment facility can be a huge aid in helping a family through this difficult process (provided your substance abuser is seeking additional help for their drug treatment). While the loved one seeks treatment for their drug of choice, families can meet with a family therapist. Therapists can listen to, encourage, and empower family members. A family therapist is not there to cast blame or bring shame. They educate and enlighten families on the topic of substance abuse and how to move forward.
In addition to education, a support team is necessary throughout and beyond the recovery process. A support team is another tool in the toolbox. Talk with families who have been through this process. You may ask, “Where can I find such people?” Start with Al-Anon. Al-Anon is a program offering fellowship and camaraderie for families of substance abuse users. You may also find support members at local 12–step meetings, churches, or other community-based programs. Remember, there is strength in numbers. A support team helps the family who ultimately helps the substance abusing loved one. Just as the family counselor, support teams can empower, listen, encourage, and often offer insight from their own personal experience.
Admittedly, these are only a few quick tools family members can use to aid themselves in the battle of a substance abusing loved one. Nevertheless, these tools can offer great insight, reassurance, and comfort while a family walks alongside love ones into recovery.

Need Support?

For more information and referrals in dealing with addiction, 24/7, call the Tennessee REDLINE at (800) 889-9789

Local to Middle Tennessee?

The STARS Youth Overcoming Drug Abuse (YODA) program located in Nashville, TN, provides compassionate care for adolescents and young adults with substance use and co-occurring disorders. YODA provides free treatment services to youth ages 13-18 who are uninsured or have insurance that will not pay for treatment.
Visit us at the Youth Opportunity Center
1704 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203, or visit our website.
For referral & intake call our confidential line: (615) 983-6809
National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

STARS is deeply committed to creating a culture and work space that centers on the power of relationships, that values diversity of perspective and experience, and that honors the dignity, worth, and contributions of all.