Shoreline Sober Living, San Diego, CA
What are the effects of substance abuse on a family

Watching a loved one struggle with substance addiction can be heart-breaking; every single person within the family unit will feel the impact. Whether it is an adult or a young teenager, a spouse or a parent, addiction will completely alter the life of anyone who loves that person.

Substance addiction affects the entire family in various ways; however, finances, relationships, and safety are the top factors at risk. Each member of the family will experience the negative impact of addiction in their way.

The effects of addiction on the family

There are numerous adverse effects of substance addiction on the family unit, which can include:

  • Strained relationships
  • Increased risk of abuse
  • Financial difficulties
  • Unstable home environment

Every family has its unique dynamic and will deal with challenges differently. Some families will feel the full extent of the adverse impacts of addiction, whereas another family may have a less intense effect. Regardless, it is impossible to deny that addiction negatively affects every family member.

The effects of addiction on the children

Children who grow up with parents who suffer from either constant or on and off addiction problems will often grow up with a significant amount of less support and guidance compared to children whose parents are not addicts.

The likelihood of children developing a substance addiction later in life is significantly increased due to the nature of the environment they grow up in.

How does addiction affect the parents

Parents who have a child or young adult suffering from an addiction problem have a unique set of challenges. The parents will often punish themselves or feel more responsible for their child’s path and wonder exactly why and where they went wrong.

It can be excruciating to be a parent and feel utterly powerless as you must continue to watch your child suffer through an awful disease. If they can financially support their children, many parents often enable their children to purchase a higher volume, increasing their substance abuse. Other parents will become somewhat overbearing, which will cause the young adult an intense amount of stress; this again will most likely increase the likelihood of the severity of the addiction.

How does addiction affect the siblings

The family siblings can often be referred to as the ‘invisible victim’; the parents are often overly consumed by the sibling with the addiction that they usually do not make time for the other siblings. The other children will take a back seat which can put a tremendous amount of strain on the relationship with their parents. Additionally, siblings will feel intense negative emotions toward their parents and the sibling suffering from the addiction. The siblings will go through a variety of emotions such as:

  • Confused
  • Shamed
  • Resentment
  • Frustration
  • Depression
  • Sadness
  • And more

Financial hardship

Supporting an active addict is not a cheap situation to be in. Many addicts push all their money towards getting the substances their body so desperately needs. Addicts often find it hard to keep a job which results in them asking their loved ones and trusted friends for:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Clothes
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Treatment
  • And other forms of support

Family units will tend to take on the financial responsibility for the addict; for example, parents will often allow their children, no matter the age, to live with them while they get back on their feet. Furthermore, the family members will pay for lawyers or, if required, post bail if the legal troubles begin.

Additional family members turning into addicts

Supporting an active addict can severely impact your mental and physical health, especially if you are the family member that everyone usually leans on when times become challenging.

Children or young adults who grow up around family members actively fighting addiction have a significantly high chance of developing their addiction later in life. Siblings may often begin using substance abuse themselves to escape the chaos of their family home.

Often substance abuse can ‘run/ in the family; therefore, the chances are further increased, especially if individuals suffer from various mental health disorders.

Help is always available for the families of addicts

Having a family member suffering from an addiction is an overwhelming, painful, and confusing situation to be involved with. However, please remember that help is available for the addiction and the family members. Our treatment facilities here at Shoreline Sober Living can advise and teach the family vital skills to learn how to cope with the intense hardships of being a support system to an addict.

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