Exposed: The Shocking Truth About Family Expectations and Substance Use – What Your Household Needs to Know
In every family, each member should be held to a reasonable standard, one that aligns with their role and responsibilities within the household. This standard should aim to ensure a harmonious, safe, and efficient home environment.
No one in the family gets to be in a state that severely impairs their ability to contribute positively to the household. This is a basic expectation, similar to how we hold each other accountable in various aspects of family life.
From one family to another, and depending on each member’s age and abilities, these expectations can vary significantly.
However, beyond the scope of their responsibilities in the family, it is not the place of family members to dictate what others do with their personal choices, as long as these choices do not harm the family environment.
The only criteria family members should apply to one another are related to their contribution to the family’s well-being; this includes factors like cooperation, respect, and safety.
Yet, it happens that families often adopt overly intrusive measures in managing personal issues of their members.
Nowhere is this more invasive and discriminatory than in situations involving family members who have used or are using illicit substances, or those who have had a problematic relationship with any substance.
"Recovery requirements" within the family, which essentially demand abstinence, impose a strict and singular path for the personal lives of specific family members. These are reflective of an abstinence-only mindset.
These family expectations are not universal; they don't mandate a substance-free lifestyle for every member. They don’t demand participation in a universal health or behavior maintenance program. Nor do they create a blanket suspicion or a simplistic excuse for minor household disagreements or issues, applicable to everyone.
Instead, these expectations unfairly single out individuals with past or current substance use, often ignoring the valuable insights and experiences they bring to the family dynamic. They impose a narrow and outdated view of substance-related issues and the approaches to managing them. Furthermore, they assume that all individuals with a history of substance use need the same form of recovery.
Such attitudes can be particularly damaging in families where understanding and compassion are crucial. These stances promote stigma and hinder progressive and individualized approaches to family challenges and dynamics.
Families deserve better. A more inclusive, understanding, and personalized approach is necessary for the health and well-being of all family members, recognizing the unique circumstances and contributions of each individual.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or need guidance on your family’s journey to addiction recovery, don’t hesitate to reach out. You’re not alone.
Timothy Harrington's purpose is to assist the family members of a loved one struggling with problematic drug use and/or behavioral health challenges in realizing their innate strength and purpose.