Category: Addiction

Families and Addiction


Help for Families and Individuals of Those Struggling with Addiction

I’m going to share a snippet of something I wrote for my website before I decided to change my website completely (it’s a long story). I have worked in addiction treatment for quite some time and have had the opportunity to speak with many worried mothers, wives, husbands, fathers, children you name it. They are undoubtedly panicked, terrified and sometimes pretty clueless about what it is they are supposed to do-and rightfully so. Unfortunately, there is no detailed manuscript for what to do with an addicted loved one, but there is PLENTY of useful material for families, family education programs, support groups and therapists out there that can help get you through such difficult times.

Every time I speak with families I have to remind myself of the pain and fear they are experiencing as a result of the unknown, sometimes fatal disease of addiction. I admit, it can be frustrating when you don’t have all the answers and you can’t explain why their loved one just won’t be “cured”. Parents, especially, can not understand what the hell is going through their kids minds. Why is their desire to get sober not as urgent as everyone else in their life believes it is?!!  Unfortunately, this is not how it works.

As a therapist who has struggled with addiction myself, I know how badly your family wants to see you get better. And I so wish that was all it took. I remember my sponsor 10 years ago telling me “you’re mom would take a bullet for you if it meant you’d get better”. That was one of the harder things to hear, but it was true.

Steps to Take for Yourself

I can tell you now, as a successful, happy and sober therapist, sobriety for your loved one can happen, but most of it, a lot of it actually, is in their hands. Most recovering individuals will tell you that looking back, it was their most excruciating feelings and experiences that made them finally willing to seek help and most importantly want sobriety.  So what do you do in the meantime?

Well first of all I want to make it very clear that you can wholeheartedly love your child and hate their addiction at the same time. They are two very different things. Some addicted individuals need super tough tough love-you know no money, no car, no place to come home and do laundry. Others need a different kind of support. Where are they in their recovery process? Do they want to get sober? Are they just kind of struggling? Will they need inpatient? A therapist can help you navigate your way through some of these unknown and presumably obsessive questions that you’ve had running through your mind over and over again.

Self Care

I can not stress enough how it important it is to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF through this process. You will be in a much better position to make rational decisions and will in turn feel good about not neglecting your own needs. You see, when you neglect your own life, AKA are codependent and or an enabler, you are helping no one. So, take a look at the information I provided below and see if it may be beneficial for you to seek some guidance. Anything helps!

Here we go-

It may be time to seek help when:

You feel ashamed of talking about the addiction and and don’t know who to talk to

You’re scared of the substance user finding out and acting out

Your family member continues to use despite your concerns

You’ve experienced family issues that you believe may have contributed to the addiction

Your physical, mental and spiritual health have been compromised

The effects of addiction aren’t limited to the substance abuser. If someone’s addiction has negatively impacted your life, it may be time to seek help. By engaging in treatment focused on the family, you can make a difference in the life of the addict while improving your own well-being. Studies show that family therapy predicts higher levels of success, greater engagement and increased continuing care participation.

Benefits of family therapy include:

Helping addict seek assistance for their own problem

Helping families understand enabling behaviors vs. supportive behaviors

Increased sense of personal serenity

Addressing codependent behavior that may be hindering recovery

Learning how to practice self care when feeling powerless over actions of addict

Assisting the substance abuser to gain awareness of their own needs and behaviors

Supporting yourself and your loved ones through the recovery process

It’s important to understand that therapy can provide support for family members but also improve their loved one’s health as well. Recovery for everyone is possible. I’ve seen it happen many times. It may not work the first time, but the possibility of being free from the storm of addiction can happen. It can difficult to ask for help, but it definitely can’t hurt.

Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver

Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy

If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.

Am I Addicted?

It can be a scary thought to think that you may be addicted to alcohol or drugs. Most people begin to notice signs of losing control but feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about it. Other people avoid taking a closer look at their consumption and thus end up kind of “pretending” that it’s not really there. I’ve worked in addiction treatment for several years and know that admitting you have a problem is one of the hardest things for people to do. Why is this? Well, admitting you are addicted means that you might have to stop. That can be terrifying. No more parties? No more wine at nice restaurants? No more pills to get me through the day? Scary!


Or not.


There is a benefit of getting help before your problems with drugs or alcohol turn into a full-blown Am I Addicted? Lindsay Melka, Denver COirreversible disease. There are people who can get a hold of their substance use before it gets worse. There are many who can not. Both options are good.


Pretty much everyone I know who has had to quit, you know, get totally sober, is happy they did. Chances are your life wasn’t so great if your drinking or using was out of control. It probably became less and less enjoyable and you ended up spending more time trying to control it then actually enjoying it.


It’s normal and expected to think that life without your drug of choice will be lonely, boring and maybe unmanageable. I’m here to tell you that that is rarely the case. It’s interesting. All of a sudden people get sober and they realize there are a ton of other people who are as well. When we’re actively using/drinking, we think everyone else is too. Like attracts like, right?


If you’re not quite ready to give total abstinence a shot, why not try to cut back, or abstain temporarily? If you find this too difficult, maybe it’s time to get some help with learning how to manage it, or quit for good. Nine times out of ten, if you’re truly struggling with a problem, stopping on your own may prove to be very difficult. Maybe you can quit for a week or a month, but then what?


End Your Struggle with Addiction


Are you having a hard time giving up drugs or alcohol? Are there times when you feel you can control it and other times where you can’t? Maybe you’ve started on the path to recovery already. Or you’ve tried to stop using drugs or alcohol before, but haven’t been successful. Perhaps you’re already part of a 12 step program and are looking for something more. No matter where you are, or how far you have left to go, therapy can begin to help you end your struggle with addiction.


It takes a lot of courage to seek help for a substance abuse problem. I am happy to see that there appears to be less and less of a stigma attached to addiction and there are definitely more people reaching out and talking about it. It’s encouraging to see! Best part is, treatment can work and people recover from addiction everyday. Like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully. You may hear the common analogy that addiction is like diabetes, you will always have it, but it can be taken care of and controlled. It is entirely possible (and likely) that you will live a normal everyday life. Actually, most folks in recovery end up living better lives than they could have ever imagined as a direct result of sobriety. More on this in later blogs..


What Does Your Road to Recovery Look Like?


How does this work? Well the road to recovery is never the same for two people and therapy will look a little different for everyone. You may discover that you have unresolved pain that led you to substance use. You may discover that there wasn’t really anything leading up to this, that using “socially” turned into something more. Maybe you inherited the disease? Whatever the case, therapy can help you get you back on track and take a closer look at what you can do to get better.

Lindsay Melka LPC Empathic Counseling and Therapy Denver

Lindsay Melka, LPC

Empathic Counseling and Therapy

If you connected with this post and would like to speak with me please call 720-295-5490 or contact me here.