In the past your Christmas letters were full of updates about all three of your sons. The information that you wrote about yourself and your husband was always minimal in comparison to the what you wrote about your sons. All college graduates, it was always fun to make sure that your friends knew about the boys’ successes: new jobs, international travel, serious girlfriends, house purchases.

This year, however, you did little more than announce your new address and the fact that you had sold your large house in the country, moved into one of your smaller rentals in town, and that you are getting closer to retirement when you will move into the house at the lake.

The rest of the story, of course, is complicated.

Do You Have a Loved One with an Addiction That Is Ruining Your Life?

There is no pretty way to tell the story of your oldest son, so it is just easier to end the tradition of the boy by boy news approach in the annual Christmas letter. Although it would still certainly be fun to tell about the accomplishments of your younger two sons, the trials you have dealt with during the last two years with your older son far out shadow anything else that has occurred. His marriage has ended in divorce; he moved back in with you; he is still far from completing his doctoral thesis that you thought he would have completed two years ago; you have kicked him out of your house; he has been in for one month of expensive rehab; he is not working.

He is an alcoholic.

You have quit making the daily calls to check on him because he does not answer. You have quit making the frantic two hour drives to his house to see if he is alright.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Destroy Individuals and Families
Finding the right substance abuse treatment can be a challenge. Understanding that there are many programs that simply do not work is frustrating. The fact of the matter is substance abuse treatment is one of the biggest challenges an individual and a family can face. Parents want solutions more than children; spouses want successes more than their loved ones. In almost all cases, in fact, the addict is stuck while their support system is hoping for the best.
From couples counseling to intensive substance abuse treatment programs and from youth counseling to child and family therapy, there are many resources in place for addicts to get help. The problem, of course, is that the addict has to want the help. The addict has to admit the problem. The addict has to commit to the substance abuse treatment program for it to be effective.

One of the more frightening statistics that many people in this country are dealing with is that substance use by Americans age 50 or older more than doubled between the years 2002 and 2012. And while alcohol addiction may be what some families are facing, there is a growing number of people who are facing an opioid addiction after they were first prescribed legal pain killers. In fact, in 2002, 13.0% of Americans ages 12 or older had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication in the past month. By 2012, that number had increased to 13.2%, representing an increase of over 4 million Americans.
As the nation attempts to come to grips with the these increases, individual families are paying a high price. If you are a family who can no longer talk to your friends about how bad things are with the addict in your family or if you are someone who cannot even pretend to write about the good news in your family Christmas letter, then you are the kind of person who is in need of help. Where you get that help matters. The heartbreaking truth is that most addicts are in and out of treatment several times before the find success. That success, of course, becomes an ongoing battle to remain sober from one day to the next.

As this new year begins, many families are hoping for a better story to share. Are you one of them?