September 8, 2021

How Drug Addiction Affects the Family

Drug Addiction and Its Effect on Family

When someone in the family develops an addiction to drugs, the whole family is affected. Nobody wants to find out their loved one has a substance abuse problem because it’s scary. Family members may begin to feel frustrated by the addict or angry at them. They might feel like it is their fault that their loved one has turned to drugs, or they may be ashamed that a person in their family is an addict. The person with the drug addiction and family members must understand that drug addiction affects the family and can happen to anybody. Genetics, peer pressure, mental illness, and social reasons can be a factor.

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Drug addiction affects the family by:

  • Causing family members to stop trusting the addict.
  • Affecting a child’s development if the addict is a parent because drugs are an overwhelming distraction. There is also an increased risk of child abuse, which may, in turn, cause the child to become an abuser.
  • Increasing stress on the people who love you, affecting their health and quality of life.
  • Increasing financial troubles, as addicted spouses spend rent money on addiction, or they may have to pay legal fees for issues like driving under the influence. Enablers may also be providing money for drugs.
  • Losing the relationship with the addict because they become more interested in drugs than in doing the activities they used to enjoy and spending time with other people.
  • Increasing the chance of physical and emotional abuse because drug use can blur the boundaries of what people will deem acceptable or cause irrational emotions and decisions.
  • Cause the family to feel fear and emotional turmoil because an addicted person’s behavior is unpredictable. Family members will feel afraid to trigger an outburst and need to walk on eggshells around them.
  • Putting their partner at risk of catching infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis. As addiction lowers inhibitions and there is an intense need to obtain more drugs, some people may begin to trade sex for drugs, which will put their partner at risk for STDs as well.
  • Forcing the family member to become a caretaker as the addicted person begins to lose control, and their health and decision-making capabilities decline due to drug use.

How Does Addiction Work?

Addiction is what happens when the brain’s reward system begins to intensely crave a substance (or behavior in the case of gambling addicts, sex addicts, etc.), causing an inability to stop using the substance. An addicted person will begin noticing an increased tolerance to the substance, needing to use more to get the same effect, and will have withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it.

Addiction changes the brain. Obsession with the drug will take over their life, and they may begin to perform poorly at work or school. Social activities will revolve around a preoccupation with planning to use. They will display a lack of self-control and will be unconcerned with the consequences of pursuing their “reward.”

Family Members Addiction Can Affect

Addiction can impact many parts of your life, including:

  • Your children
  • Your spouse
  • Your parents
  • Your siblings
  • Your extended family
  • Your chosen family

How Addiction Affects the Whole Family

Addiction will begin to dominate every interaction, relationship, and aspect of life. There is considerable pressure on the family to provide support and help, and they may not know what to do. Every family member will react and be affected differently by addiction—dynamics in the household shift, with the addict taking on the central role of the family.

Coping Strategies for Family Members

If your family member is an addict, you can be proactive in helping them recover by:

  • Attending family therapy or couples counseling together and continually encouraging attendance at support meetings, treatment, and sober activities.
  • Educate yourself on addiction and recovery as best you can, researching enablement, triggers, health issues, and the psychological changes caused by addiction.
  • Keep your expectations reasonable to avoid disappointment because progress takes time, and there may be setbacks along the way.
  • Find support for yourself outside the home, so you are not overwhelmed with responsibility for your loved one. Attend groups or therapy on your own so you can find the best ways to care for yourself through this challenging time.
  • Make sure you do not take on more than you can handle emotionally, financially, or with responsibilities like housework and childcare, because over time, resentment will build toward the addict.
  • Ensure you prioritize your own mental health and wellness before taking care of others and ensure that the addict’s behavior is not prioritized over other family members’ feelings and safety.
  • Have discussions about your expectations and feelings when everybody is sober and ready to talk, and when emotions are neutral in the home, using facts about how their addiction is damaging not only them but the rest of the family.
  • Set firm boundaries and limits. Limitations are important to keep, so you do not end up putting yourself at risk for having to do things you are not comfortable with, like interfering with law enforcement or covering up for their behavior.

Getting Help for Drug Addiction

If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction, you can contact Muse Treatment today to learn more about how drug addiction affects the family. We can walk you through some treatment options that will improve the health of your loved one but also help your family get through this together. Our integrated combination of detox, rehab, and outpatient care, combined with family and couples therapy, is an excellent way to set your family back on the road to success at our facility. Please reach out to us today at (800) 426-1818 to learn more about drug addiction and family.

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