Understanding the Impact of Addiction on the Family

Addiction is a disease that can have a profound impact on both the addict and those who care about them.  Parents, children, spouses, and friends often suffer the consequences of addiction even though they are not the ones who are using.  Families often struggle to find ways to help the addict, but instead end up feeling hurt, helpless, frustrated, angry, embarrassed, and powerless.  Family members can suffer emotionally, financially, legally, and in many other ways from addiction.

Impact on Trust
People suffering from addiction tend to struggle to keep their promises or stay true to their word.  The addiction begins to affect their ability to honor the promises they have made or remember what they have said that they will do.  In addition, addicts tend to lie in order to cover up their use.  The greater the addiction, the more frequent the lies tend to be.  As the addict’s promises fall through, their family and friends may begin to no longer believe them, lowering their expectations in order to protect themselves from getting hurt.

Financial Impact
As the addict develops the need for more and more of the substance of their addiction, the cost of their addiction will quickly begin to add up.  Money needed for important bills, groceries, gas, or other necessities may quickly become a means for the addict to fuel their addiction.  Addiction can also affect their employment and result in increased absenteeism and decreased productivity.  It is important to note, however, that work is often the last thing that is directly impacted by the addiction.  For example, functional alcoholics often continue to work and may, in fact, be very successful at their jobs.  However, while they thrive at work, their home life often falls apart. 

Impact on Mental Health
Families who witness their loved ones suffering from addiction may experience high stress levels, feelings of helplessness, symptoms of depression, symptoms of anxiety, and a number of other negative emotions and symptoms.  As the family tries to help the person who is suffering from addiction, they may lose sight of their own mental health.  The more time the family dedicates toward trying to help the addict, the less time they tend to spend taking care of themselves.  

Impact on the Addict’s Significant Other
Watching your significant other suffer from the disease of addiction is both heartbreaking and maddening.  As the addiction gets worse, arguments tend to increase.  Spouses of addicts often try to control the drinking which usually results in greater resentments and more arguments.  The more they try to control the substance use, the more things tend to feel out of control.  Spouses often become so excessively concerned with the addict’s problems that they begin to neglect their own well-being. 

Impact on the Addict’s Children
Children who live with addiction frequently develop behavioral problems, mental health issues, trust issues, troubles developing healthy relationships, and many other developmental problems.  A child growing up in a chaotic home with addicted parents often feels alone and unsafe.  Many kids act out their emotional pain which can result in problems at school and home.  Other kids try to become “perfect” in order to cover up the shame that they feel at home.  The more chaotic their environment, the more they try to mask the problems of home by overachieving outside of the home.  Unfortunately, the pain of growing up with addiction, can have a huge impact on kids which can last well into adulthood.

Impact on the Extended Family
Parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends may suffer from the effects of the addiction.  It is painful to watch someone you care about struggle with addiction.  Extended family members may try to help by lending money or spending time trying to convince the addict to get help.  Unfortunately, attempts to help are often unsuccessful, which leads to feelings of frustration and helplessness.  

Addiction is a disease that affects the whole family.  It can destroy relationships, ruin careers, and hurt the ones closest to the addict. The family of an addict may find it beneficial to seek help for themselves in therapy or support groups.

New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, New Dimensions can help.  We offer in-person substance abuse treatment for individuals who reside within the greater Houston area.  We also have online treatment programs for anyone who resides within the State of Texas, including Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Austin.  To learn more about our Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs for alcoholism and addictions, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

18 April, 2021

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