It’s been said that addiction is a family disease. Addiction affects the family in many ways to the point of destruction. And the thing is, it doesn’t just affect the addict, but also the whole family they belong in.
The effects of addiction is insidious. Someone’s struggles with substance or behavioral addiction stretch out far beyond them alone. Their immediate family is directly affected, and the impact can be tragic. Addiction alters the lives of the people who love the addict.
Let’s take a look at the many ways addiction affects the whole family.
How Addiction Affects the Whole Family
The effects of addiction to the whole family is numerous. From strained relationships, dysfunctional dynamics, financial woes, legal problems, and increased abuse are just some of them.
- Addiction’s effects on relationships. No matter who in the family has an addiction problem, everyone is affected. Living with an addict in the family is a daily challenge and struggle. Each member of the family responds and adopts to it in different ways. Some step back and isolate themselves, some blame themselves, some try to keep control, some involve themselves deep into the chaos. Some also try their best to keep some semblance of balance and normalcy. It’s best to avoid being enablers and not become co-dependents.
- Increased risk of abuse. Addicts become unpredictable and difficult to deal with. They lose their grip on reality. They become impulsive and forget to think about the consequences of their actions. They lose their inhibitions, and as a result, family members are at an increased risk of abuse. Family members may experience violence and aggression, as well as emotional, financial, and sexual exploitation at the hands of the addict.
- The effects on children. Children with single parents or both parents who are abusing drugs don’t have any one to turn to. They grow up in an unpredictable environment and values and behaviors may be skewed. And whether they have two parents with only one addicted, they get inconsistent physical and emotional support. There’s a higher risk of abuse or violence against these children. Addiction in turn affects their own upbringing, their world view, and their self-esteem. Furthermore, they are also more likely to develop addiction into adulthood.
- The impact on parents. Parents of addicts have a unique set of difficulties. They may feel responsible for what their child is now. They may constantly take it out on themselves, feeling guilty about somehow doing something wrong and causing all the problem. They are also constantly plagues by worry. It can be painful to watch their child change into something that has become a stranger to them. And then this person, their child, is destroying their life, deteriorating before their eyes. The parent can feel helpless or they may try to wrest for control.
- The effects on siblings. The siblings of drug addicts are considered “invisible victims.” Their parents are consumed by the problems of the addicted child that the other siblings’ needs have taken the backburner. They end up being on the sidelines. They may feel insignificant, confused, frustrated, ashamed, angry, and resentful.
- Financial hardships. Having an addiction doesn’t come cheap. Apart from the health problems and the impact on a person’s reputation, job, and studies, it also takes a toll on the family’s finances. The family’s resources may go towards the addiction or for patching up the trouble the addict has caused. As a result, the other needs of the family are not being met.
Help is Available for Family Members of Addicts
Having a family member who is addicted to drugs, alcohol, or certain behaviors can be beyond challenging. The situation is not hopeless, though. Treatment facilities such as Bridges of Hope can help people with substance use and behavioral addictions.
If you want to know how to help a family member get into a rehab center, we can help. Contact us at 09175098826.