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Chemical Dependency and the Dysfunctional Family

Finding a Way OutIt's Your Choice

Your chemical dependency cannot be cured by someone else. No one else can save you. No one can force you to become clean. However, when you decide that you want help, there are people and organizations willing to help you. Inpatient and outpatient groups exist virtually everywhere. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous probably are located close to you. Schools, hospitals, religious organizations, and communities often have their own groups to help alcoholics and drug addicts recover. Many also have teen-only groups.

Through treatment, Shaneen and Ray were able to stop using drugs and alcohol. They began to deal with their chemical dependency, the problems it caused, and the pain and suffering it brought. In their rehab programs and in support groups, they learned about and met addicts who had recovered from their addictions. They discussed what they wanted for their future, for their personal relationships, and for themselves. They talked about how to deal with old friends and offers for drugs and alcohol. They learned to resist peer pressure. They talked about rebuilding lives filled with new activities, new friends, and new plans.

Self-Help Groups

Shaneen and Ray also joined self-help groups, which were made up of teens struggling with drugs and alcohol. The self-help groups supported and encouraged them. They reminded Shaneen and Ray that many other teens were facing the same issues that they were. The groups gave them the strength to deal with old friends and old temptations. They also helped them to examine their families' dysfunction.

Most important, Shaneen and Ray realized that they had to begin new lives. They needed to deal with pain and confusion by means other than drugs and alcohol. Shaneen and Ray needed to find healthy and positive activities that would enhance their future, not drag them back into the misery of their past addiction. They were encouraged to consider activities and hobbies that they had not tried before. Ray rejoined the track team and took a part-time job after school. Shaneen started volunteering to help other teens dealing with life in dysfunctional families.

Both Ray and Shaneen began keeping journals. They write about their daily experiences and how they grew and overcame the problems caused by living in their families. There is no easy way out for Shaneen or Ray, and there never will be. Despite all of their family problems, they both have to take control of their own lives. They have to take charge of their addiction and recovery.

Ray and Shaneen have similar problems, but they are from different families with different dysfunctions. Both are learning that some families can be repaired, but others cannot. In therapy, Ray is working with his parents and sister to make their home happier and more supportive. Shaneen, in contrast, might not be able to return to her family. However, Shaneen does not have to return to her old patterns of dysfunction— drinking. She can learn more effective ways to cope with her family.

Shaneen and Ray are not responsible for repairing their families. They can take charge of only their own behavior. They have to face their chemical dependency and continue to heal themselves.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaChemical Dependency and the Dysfunctional FamilyChemical Dependency and the Dysfunctional Family - Finding a Way Out - The Road To Recovery, It's Your Choice