Family, Substance Addiction & Healing

This article was written by Nitara Osbourne and published by American Addiction Centers


Addiction not only impacts those who are battling the disease themselves, but it impacts the lives of their friends and loved ones. The emotional roller coaster that these families seem to continuously ride on with very few stops in between can be overwhelming. Substance addiction affects all of us if it affects just one of us, but it’s family members that are confronted with the realities of the disease on a regular basis.

Joy Sutton, host of American Addiction Centers’ (AACs’) talk show, Addiction Talk, touches on addiction and the family in this latest episode titled “Addiction is a Family Disease: Loss, Love, and Living in Truth.”

In this honest and captivating interview, Joy spoke with the following guests:

  • Deborah Taranto, a mother, a professor, and author of three books, including her latest soon-to-be published one—The Beginning, Middle, and No End. This story is about Deborah’s family’s experience with addiction, as she shares insightful words from her daughter’s diary before her untimely passing, as well as words from her sons who also battled addiction.
  • Nada Davis, a mother of three sons, a yoga teacher, an attorney, and author of the published memoir, Home is Within You, reveals both her childhood and adult trauma that led to her own addiction and dysfunctional relationships.
  • And last, but certainly not least, Anita Lee who is 10+ years sober, has a YouTube channel called Candidly, which is a non-clinical space for support, motivation, and inspiration.

These amazing women spoke openly about their experiences with addiction and their families. You can listen to this riveting Addiction Talk episode, and be sure to tune in for future episodes that you won’t want to miss!

And if you’re battling with a substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD), you’re not alone. AAC provides inpatient and outpatient care in a safe and supportive environment in order to help you reach long-term sobriety one step at a time. As a nationwide leader in addiction treatment, we make it more accessible to receive quality care. So, if you’re battling with substance addiction, please reach out for help.


Substance Addiction: Individual vs. Family Disease

Many people mistakenly assume that addiction only affects the individual battling the disease and may often not take the family’s feelings into consideration at all. This is not because people don’t care about loved ones. Family members may just seem to disappear into the background while the spotlight continues to shine on the individual struggling with a disease that so many don’t fully understand. A disease that still has so much stigma attached despite the realities of it being a medical condition.

“I drank to numb… and so the way I learned to cope was always to look like everything was okay… the alcohol became the comfort for myself after the day was done. And it spiraled into not being able to communicate well with my family,” said Anita who has been sober from drinking alcohol for over 10 years.

It’s interesting to see the different perspectives from different experiences. Hearing from an individual who struggled with alcohol versus another who struggled with substances and had children of her own.

“So, I believe that the most important role as a mother of three sons—and something that I did not get as a child—is to teach my children… what their true nature is and their true selves,” shares Nadia. Nadia shares more of her experiences in her memoir Home is Within You where she details her life from trauma to empowerment.

And our other panelist–Deborah–is an extraordinary woman who remained the only sober family member in her household of five people, shares her own emotional struggles over her three children battling substance addiction while her husband struggled with alcohol misuse at the same time. Deborah is a force to be reckoned with.

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