Here’s what I know happens when addiction comes roaring through a family…

Whether you are the one struggling with it, or someone suffering on the sidelines… like a flood – when addiction comes through a family it is all consuming. It overtakes everyone, and it comes for E V E R Y T H I N G.


If you are a family member who is hyper-responsible, nurturing and prone to fixing things – it’s coming for those qualities. It will twist, and use and manipulate them over and over.

If you‘re giving and compassionate, it’s coming for those parts.

Are you someone who feels chronic guilt, fault, shame, or blame? It will move in on those parts of you and use them against you.

If you have control, temper, or impulse issues, or struggle with panic, obsessive thinking and worry – it hones in on those areas and will amplify them to the 10th power.

Is your loved on charming, a skilled communicator, and perhaps gifted with charisma. They will use those characteristics to manipulate and divide.

If you happen to have enemies, rivals or ridiculers – this problem will be what they poke, point at, and talk about. Trust me on that.

© Chris Gallagher via Unsplash

Addiction is a problem unlike any other

Preconceived notions of solutions don’t work. Addiction strips away intelligence, traditions, roles, titles, accomplishments and all you once thought you knew about it.

Just as it is cunning, baffling and powerful, it is also fluid and unpredictable.

But here’s another thing I know about that flood

When those waters stop surging, if everyone does the work to clean up the damage and heal – every area that got saturated can be made new. Many times better and stronger than before.

It is not an overnight repair, there is no quick fix. It’s a lifelong healing and rebuilding process.

This is why it’s incredibly difficult to go through it alone. It’s vital to get information, education, guidance and support. Kindness and compassion greatly help too! Toward the one struggling, as much as toward those who love and are affected by that person.

Regardless who the affliction has taken hold of, we all have work to do. Everyone needs to assess themselves. The entire family and all of its systems need repair.

I have found that just like addiction – RECOVERY seeps into every area too.

When recovery gets in it can make anyone compassionate, strong, brave, self-aware, loving, grateful, introspective, nonjudgmental and kind.

Doing the work to recover spills into every corner of life

Recovery creates an awakening that will make you mindful of the moment and grateful for every day.

If everyone does their work, family relationships can be repaired and completely renovated.

On this side of those storms, I’m grateful for the awakening brought into our lives. I know the value of introspection, compassion, kindness and support. And more than anything I know now how precious time is.

Life can get better after the flood.

Since 2003, Allies in Recovery has addressed substance abuse in families by providing a method for the family to change the conversation about addiction. We use Community Reinforcement & Family Training (CRAFT), a proven approach that helps the family unblock and advance the relationship towards sobriety and recovery and to engage a loved one into treatment. Learn about member benefits by following this link.

 About the Author:
Annie Highwater is a Writer, Speaker, Podcast Host and Family Advocate. She has a particular interest in family pathology and concepts of dysfunction, addiction, alcoholism and conflict. Annie published her memoir, Unhooked: A Mother's Story of Unhitching from the Roller Coaster of Her Son's Addictionin 2016. Her story sheds light on the personal challenges facing the affected parents and family members, and illustrates how family dynamics both help and hinder the recovery process. Annie's second book, Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache was published in August of 2018. She resides in Columbus, Ohio and enjoys writing, long distance running, hiking, the great outdoors and visiting her son in California as often as possible.

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