Addiction is a Family Disease

It’s no secret that addiction is a family disease. It can be passed down from generation to generation. It doesn’t affect just the user – it affects everyone around them. Especially in our modern times, it seems like alcoholism and addiction run rampant, whether it’s shopping or Facebook or meth. I know this is a bit of a grim start to this article, but today I actually feel more hopeful and content than I ever have in my sobriety so far.

Lately I feel like I have been in a battle with behaviors I have that remind me of my parents. From infidelity to hiding my emotions to being cruel with my words, every day I notice something that my mom or my dad does. There are two in particular though that bothers me the most and pop up the most often.

They are thoughts of cheating on my boyfriend and I having panic attacks.

I can only think of one woman I know of in my family that has been loyal to her husband. The rest, including my mom, have cheated. I’ve even seen it with my own eyes. When I was little, my mom and aunts used to think it was funny to teach me phrases like “Men are worthless” or “Men are only good for one thing”. I could go on and on about all the little things that helped to shape my current habits.

But I am an adult now, and not only that, but I’m an adult in recovery, which means I have even more of a responsibility to be true to myself and true to other people. So, what I’m trying to say now and what I’ve been reminding myself, is that I can have thoughts of wanting to be with someone else besides my boyfriend but that doesn’t mean I have to physically act on them or mentally entertain them for a long time.

I was talking about it with my Sponsor the other day, and she told me that it was nothing more than wanting to run away from my life, uncomfortable emotions and probably my upcoming 9th Step as well! She told me there was still a part of me that believed that I could get peace and fulfillment from something outside myself, like a new relationship. It’s just my ego looking for a distraction, something to keep me on the surface of life.

But I’m not content just living on the surface of life. From what I’ve noticed, most alcoholics and addicts aren’t! That’s why we got so sucked into drugs and alcohol. We wanted adventure and freedom and intimacy more than anything – we just got pulled into going about it in a very unhealthy way.

So, here we are. We’re either thinking about getting into recovery or we’re already in it. We’re noticing all the parts of ourselves that remind us of our parents or other members of our family. Parts that we may not like and want to keep. I know it can sometimes seem like it’s impossible to change. I’ve always done it this way, My family has been like this for generations.

But the truth is that WE ARE NOT our parents. We are not our family, our brother or sister or cousin or aunt. We are separate, whole, divine, complete, wonderful, capable human beings that can be however we want to be. The Steps are our tools to change and improve and become the people that we always wanted to be. I’m not saying it’s easy to break away from family patterns and expectations, but I can say it’s definitely worth it.

There are a few things that I do that help remind me of who I really am separate from my family:

  • Journal my thoughts, emotions and actions on a daily basis.
  • Talk to my Sponsor and other people in 12 Step recovery.
  • Take walks and spend time in nature.
  • Daily meditation in the mornings and evenings.

“I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. To cut yourself out of stone.” -Henry Rollins

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.