Addiction: A family disease

Addiction is often referred to as a ‘family disease’. Those nearest to the sufferer often blame themselves, going through a range of emotions from despair, depression and guilt to anger and frustration. This commonly leaves families and loved ones exhausted and feeling powerless in how to deal with the chaos and pain surrounding addiction.

Involving family members and loved ones in treatment at Nightingale Hospital

Research has shown that the involvement of families in the treatment process greatly increases the prospects of a person’s recovery.

Nightingale Hospital offers a free monthly family day for the loved ones of current addictions inpatients; as well as a free weekly evening family support group.*  All support groups are anonymous and confidential, and facilitated by an experienced therapist.

What loved ones of addiction patients are saying about the support services at Nightingale Hospital

Please see below for recent feedback that has been shared with us from the loved ones of addiction patients, seeking treatment at  Nightingale Hospital. This feedback has been given as a result of our free monthly family days, and/or our free weekly evening family support groups.

  • The Tuesday group has without a doubt been one of the main reasons that I, my family and Harry (the addict) are doing as well as we are. I arrived so scared, terrified, sad, angry and traumatised to my first meeting and found nothing but help, advice, counsel, support and friendship.  One of the problems of having an addict in the family is that you, like they, become isolated and lonely and feel that nobody else in the world understood or knew what was happening to us.  For the first time in a long time, I found advice and comfort.  It is an extraordinary group and I feel nothing but deep gratitude and thankfulness to have found Francis and the other extraordinary people who join the group week after week.  I don’t like to think about where I would be if I didn’t have this in my life.
  • The addiction support group has provided me with the strength and support to change my life, progress in my recovery and heal in my relationships. Every week that I go, I grow in perspective and feel empowered to take positive steps to disrupt harmful relationship patterns and to rebuild myself.
  • The family group has been an invaluable source of wisdom, learning and support in coming to terms with, understanding and learning to live with addiction in my family. It has provided the solid ground for me to walk on in times when I have felt completely at sea and desperate – and has helped me to recognise the importance of my own journey and be able to stand back from and allow my son to take responsibility for his own recovery.
  • It’s difficult to put into words exactly just how invaluable the family group has been to me.  It really was my saving grace at the darkest point and gave me the strength to continue for my boys, when I genuinely thought I really couldn’t manage anymore.   But more than that it has allowed me to bravely begin to understand my own demons, how I too contributed to the dynamic and how I can change my behaviour to create a healthier and happier future for me – and my family – to no longer remain the victim, both in my professional and personal life.  Thank you.
  • I’ve had no issue in sharing my own feelings.  At the first meeting I attended I broke down sobbing, and it was so cathartic—I had so often wanted to cry during the past 2 years in dealing with my partner and his hidden addiction but couldn’t.
  • Thank you for providing this indispensable service to the family members and significant others of Nightingale’s patients.
  • I write to express my gratitude for the help the Nightingale family support group provides me. When my spouse was admitted to the Nightingale, I was confused and desperate. My time attending the group has transformed my life and continues to do so. Not only has the group been invaluable for me, but also, in a very real way, my attendance of the family support group has strengthened my spouse’s recovery because I now have an awareness of my role in the family disease of addiction. Without the group, I’m not sure where I would be today. My life would certainly be less manageable and I would be considerably less happy.
  • The support received from the family group is unlike any other. It is not just a place to share your despair with those who truly understand the chaos of watching your family destroyed by addiction. It is a place of great learning in how our own behaviours can inadvertently slow the process of an addict’s recovery. A reminder that we are not alone, a place to be supported and offer support, whether at the beginning of the journey or several years on. This group has played an integral part in the recovery of our family for which we will be ever grateful.
  • I can honestly say that the family group hosted by Francis Lickerish is a vital part of the recovery process of both the addict and the family.  Addiction has been described as a family disease whereby all family members become affected. As the addiction gets worse in many instances the relationship between the addict and the family becomes increasingly toxic. Once the addict realises that professional help is needed, they go into rehabilitation and are provided with support and a series of structured programmes for their recovery.  However, often is the case whereby the family members are left to their own devices and not offered or receive support.  The family group provides that support and indeed tools to rehabilitate and repair the relationship between the addict and the family.
  • I cannot write more highly of Francis Lickerish.  I wish this meeting could be rolled out everywhere.  I used to travel down at great financial and personal expense from Scotland for three-plus years for 36 hours simply to attend. It was the best therapy I have ever done.  Worth every moment. Thank you, Nightingale Hospital, for facilitating this.  Thank you, Francis, for organising it for us.
  • While the issues discussed in Francis’s group are among the saddest and most difficult and tragic that families and relationships ever have to deal with, the group gives me the strength I need to confront the issues in the week ahead and to continue to recover my mental health.
  • The family support group has had a huge benefit in helping me and my family recover from the impact of living with an addict for over a decade and recognising how it has affected the whole family dynamic. It has taken a while to both accept and understand that only by changing our own behaviours and removing ourselves gradually from the all-consuming drama of living with addiction can we help ourselves and in doing so help our daughter, whom we love dearly. Initially, it seemed completely counter-intuitive to distance ourselves from our daughter at the time when she appeared to need us most. However, listening to the insightful, eloquent and often moving comments of other family members who are going through very similar experiences, the sense of this action gradually started to seep through and has helped us return to a more normal, peaceful family life. Of course, we now realise that this doesn’t necessarily mean that this will help our daughter’s recovery as her behaviour is not in our control, but it has helped her to take more responsibility for herself, understand our needs and has improved the family relationship – and she is currently doing well. The group also offers some hope that I can one day help someone else who has been through a similar experience and that some good can come from something that for so long seemed so totally sad.

*Both groups now take place online via Zoom. This offering is only available to family and loved ones of current Nightingale Hospital patients seeking treatment for addiction.

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