How Addiction Affects Family Members

Drug and alcohol addiction can be both short-term and long-term. Addictions can tear apart loving, caring homes and take a toll on the friends and family surrounding an addicted individual. It can make living together very difficult.

Families are often severely affected by all aspects of a loved one’s addiction. Conflict and struggles erupt, trust and loyalty is lost, and relationships can be strained.

Addiction Affects Family and Friends

Addiction is a two-way street. When someone abuses drugs or alcohol, their behavior affects everyone. In fact, the negative behavior of an addict is usually difficult to handle. Addicts, typically, are rooted deeply in denial, preventing them from being fully aware of their actions and behavior. This affects their trustworthiness and

When someone you love uses drugs, they become defiant, irresponsible, abusive, and cause stress. The whole family is affected, disrupted, and unstable.

How Children are Affected

Between 2000 and 2010, the United States Census noted the number of children living with their grandparents increased by 104%. The two leading causes were mental disorders and addiction.

When a child lives with a parent who is an addict, they are at higher risk for having developmental delays and neglected mental and medical needs. Children learn by observing their surroundings and mirror the behaviors they see. This causes psychological and behavioral issues because children are unable to vocalize their problems and typically do not understand what is happening. The stress that living with an addict puts on children and teens can cause irreversible damage and affect the brain.

Home life can be challenging, children are at a higher risk of physical and sexual abuse, and witness their parents participating in acts of violence or illegal substances. Many children and teens blame themselves for their parents’

How it Impacts Parents

Parents of an addict often find themselves questioning their parental abilities and blame themselves. However, parents need to remember that instead of finding where to place the blame, they need to focus on helping their child.

The statistics are frightening:

  • 90% of Americans who meet addiction criteria started drinking, using drugs, or smoking before the age of 18
  • 10% of children between the ages of 12 to 17 were using current illicit drug (as of 2009)
  • 20% of high schoolers who have used addictive substances meet addiction criteria

This affects parents as much as it does their child. When a child or adolescent is suffering from an addiction or substance abuse, the whole household suffers – emotionally, mentally, and financially. When a child, who still lives at home, is struggling with addiction, the parents have a bit more power financially to seek help. However, the problem can be seen as more dangerous, because the child has their whole lives ahead of them. It is a critical time for getting help to stop the addiction before it becomes too strong.

The Effect of Addiction on Spouses

Being married to an addict can lead to physical and verbal abuse, which often leads to disagreements regarding substance abuse. The addiction will become the center of the relationship. Addiction is linked to higher divorce rates.

In a household where both partners are afflicted by addiction, they feed off each other and enable one another.

In a relationship where one spouse is sober, common issues arise such as financial difficulties, embarrassment and shame, legal issues, and distrust.

Issues will arise and cause conflict in the home, trigger feelings of anger, and impair judgement.These emotions can result in verbal, mental, and physical abuse, violence, and harm. In fact, nearly 80% of domestic abuse cases are a result of illicit substance abuse.

Any sign of domestic abuse needs to be taken very seriously.

*If anyone believes they are in danger due to an abusive spouse, contact an abuse treatment professional or legal authorities immediately*

How the Family Can Come Together and Help Combat Addiction

If a loved one is suffering from addiction, the best thing a family can do for them is to get help. If necessary steps are not taken, the abuse will continue and affect the lives of everyone involved. The family and friends of an addict need to be sure not to place blame on anyone or anything, but to focus on getting their loved one the help they need in order to start a journey to recovery.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction problem, get help today. The journey to recovery and rehabilitation is just one call away.




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