Most discussions on the impact of addiction often focus on the person suffering from it. The reality, though, is that the devastating effects of this disease also consume the lives of our families. Contrary to what many believe, addiction does not only affect the addicted person — it’s also a family disease.
The Long-Lasting Impacts of Addiction on the Family Unit
Take a moment to picture what happens when you water a potted plant. As soon as you pour in the water, it settles on the surface for a few minutes, then flows to the deeper parts of the plant, spreading to the roots.
In the same way, it only takes a short while before the consequences of a person’s dependency seep into the lives of the family members, taking a toll on them.
There are several ways in which addiction affects not only the one who is dependent, but also those around them:
1. Family Unions Are Broken
Addiction’s effect on healthy family relationships is similar to what some illnesses do to a healthy body. Just as they spread and weaken the body, dependence too, if not treated, weakens and destroys solid relationships in the family.
The strained relationships may be between the addicted individual and their loved ones, or amongst the family members.
A person suffering from dependency may opt to distance themself from the rest of the family, ruining the perfect bond they once shared. Loved ones can also turn against each other because of differing opinions on how to deal with the family member suffering from this disease.
Children living in a household with an addicted family member will have a hard time bonding with the person. And this will lead to other social complications, such as aggression, anxiety, fear of sharing how they feel.
2. The Emotional Turmoil
Emotional distress will be present in a household where addiction is at play. Loved ones may feel a rollercoaster of extreme emotions, including:
- Anger and resentment towards the member suffering from addiction
- Grief and sadness over the loss of the great relationship they had with the individual before this disease took that away
- Hopelessness because they feel that whatever they do, they cannot help
- Shame as they constantly have to hide the family member’s addictive struggles from people outside the family
- Never-ending worries that the addicted family member may one day overdose or look into criminal activities.
Even when the addicted family member promises to change, these emotional wounds don’t instantly disappear. It takes time (and therapy) for loved ones to overcome these emotions.
3. Financial Difficulties
A family member suffering from dependency is likely to neglect their priorities within the home. They will use money meant for necessities to finance their harmful habit, often leaving the family in deep financial problems. Loss of income is also a possibility, as the addicted family member can be fired from work because of their negative behaviour. Many even quit, because of their inability to manage a professional life alongside their addiction. Unable to consider the consequences of their actions, they will throw their family in even worse financial debt.
Addiction causes different health issues, including mental health complications, developed neurological conditions. Many harm different organs such as heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and the brain. This would lead to more financial obligations for the family as they pay for the addicted individual’s treatment.
The family’s financial burden would increase if the family member’s self-destructive behaviour lands them on the wrong side of the law — for instance, repeatedly getting arrested for driving when intoxicated. Sorting out legal fees can take a serious financial toll on the family with the increase in consecutive fines.
4. Broken Hearts
The spouse to a person living in active addiction may decide to end the relationship or marriage because their partner is no longer physically and emotionally available as for them pursuing the addictive behaviour becomes a priority. Sometimes, the children of an addicted parent may be forcibly moved from their home to a different (healthy) environment by child-protective services and medical personnel. Sometimes, alcohol leads to aggression, which borders domestic abuse and violence. If caught early on, things can heal and the relationship can be mended. However, once a certain line has been crossed, loved ones break and so do the relationships.
Family separation leaves children vulnerable to anxiety and depression. It also increases their likelihood of abusing drugs at an early age.
5. Forced New Roles
A family member struggling with addiction may experience health problems from time to time, forcing loved ones to take up the role of caregivers. Even if the partners, parents and children are okay with this, living off someone else’s time equals eating up this same person’s chances for using that time for personal growth.
In other cases, the older children of an addicted parent have to step in and take on parental responsibilities in the home, which is extremely restrictive for their current and future life.
6. More on Violence
Substance addiction impairs a user’s judgment. A family member living with substance use dependence may constantly lash out at their loved ones for no valid reason. Stimulants and amphetamines can lead to aggression. While opiates and opioids in general lead to calming effects, the withdrawal symptoms can bring about excessive emotional behaviours and uncontrollable amplitudes.
When confronted about their actions, some addicted people may resort to physical altercations, creating traumatic experiences for the family members.
Seeking Addiction Treatment Will Heal You and Your Family
The harmful behaviours of an individual struggling with addiction can make every day a tough experience for their family. The good news is, this illness is highly treatable. When you get professional help, your loved ones will benefit from seeing you in a reformed state.
A good treatment involves the person and their loved ones. As no one in recovery wants to return to a battlefield where every eye is set to see their faults, understanding one’s relationships at the workplace, at home and within the community is key to healing. Yellow Printed Suit Set
Some people prefer not to go into inpatient treatment, so the factor of returning back home is nonexistent. However, even home detoxes and outpatient treatment hide dangers. Which is why during treatment, one should involve their families. As UK Home Detox confirms, to successfully detox from home, you will require an active support network, from medical professionals to your loved ones.