The statement that addiction is a disease is true but that simple statement leaves out the devastating effects the disease has on the person battling addiction and on their family and friends. Just like a cancer diagnosis ripples through a family, addiction’s impact can be catastrophic, leaving in its wake hurt and shame.
“This disease is tearing at the core of our families through addicted parents and killing our addicted children at an alarming rate,” shared Linda Chapman, office manager at Rob’s Ranch, an Oklahoma-based addiction treatment center.
However, where the comparison diverges is in the length of the battle. Chapman shared that “the average length of time in addiction is 21 years.”
Chapman’s own personal story follows that narrative. She began using at age 13 and, at the age of 43, she was facing lengthy prison sentences. Chapman has been sober since 2007.
“I began using at the age of 13 and got into recovery at the age of 43,” Chapman shared. “I found lasting recovery through a spiritual program that helped me develop a personal relationship with Jesus and gave me a full and complete life.”
It is important to recognize that addiction cannot be cured. There are no procedures or treatments that fix the problem which is likely what leads to the shocking longevity.
“The disease of addiction cannot be fixed. No amount of willpower can allow an addict to control their behavior. However, the behavior can be addressed and modified through counseling along with living a life following spiritual principles that include personal accountability,” Chapman said, citing her experience and that of others in recovery at Rob’s Ranch.
Chapman was quick to add that there are no lost causes, saying there is always the possibility of recovery.
“Addicts aren’t bad people; they are sick people that make bad decisions, and it is hard to separate the person from the behavior,” she said. “Not every addict has to hit rock bottom, but every addict must get to the point that the pain of remaining in addiction is unbearable and then be willing to try a different way of life.”
What can family and friends do to help their loved ones endure the intense challenges ahead?
First of all, Chapman wants you to know and embrace these important statements:
- You did not cause this addiction.
- You cannot cure it.
- You cannot control it.
While no two cases are exactly alike, Chapman points to support groups as an important resource for those seeking recovery and for their family and friends, which help process the difficult emotions both parties have that can hinder restoration.
“My job here at Rob’s Ranch has given me a purpose in life working with addicts and their families,” she said. “No two cases are alike in addiction, but a life of recovery based on spiritual principles is the common thread I see in every successful case.
“There are numerous support groups available for loved ones of addicts and alcoholics: Al-Anon, Al-Ateen, Nar-Anon, Parents Helping Parents and Celebrate Recovery, to name a few; along with specialized counselors that allow them to identify, address and work through their feelings resulting from a loved one’s addiction.”
Taking the time to process the hurt and weight of addiction means you’ll be better equipped to help. Chapman also encourages parents to have informed, open and honest conversations with their children about substance abuse issues and addiction, since “the average age stated by addicts that they began using is between 12 and 16 years of age.”
“Parents must be well informed on substance abuse issues and share this information honestly and openly with children,” she encouraged.
To learn more about local resources and support groups, substance abuse issues or treatment options at Rob’s Ranch, visit robsranch.org.
“Reach out today and start the healing process for the whole family,” invites Chapman.
Rob’s Ranch is a post-acute treatment center that focuses on the time-tested, proven model of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. With over 80 years of combined counseling experience, the curriculum at Rob’s Ranch offers a full spectrum of addiction recovery services.