How Does Addiction Affect Family And Friends?
Addiction is an insidious disease that doesn’t just impact the person struggling with it. It creates a ripple effect in their lives and affects those they love, too—their family members and friends.
There’s no denying how difficult it can be to watch someone you care about battle an addiction while trying to maintain your own sanity at the same time. It takes a tremendous toll on all involved parties, but there are ways to strengthen ties through even the most challenging times.
In this post, we’ll explore different facets of addiction as well as discuss ideas for finding help and support resources for everyone involved in managing its effects. Read on to learn more about how a substance abuse problem affects not only those suffering from it but also the people around them.
The American Psychological Association defines addiction this way: “Addiction is a state of psychological or physical dependence (or both) on the use of alcohol or other drugs.“
They also recognize that addiction is a chronic disease – a medical illness that requires treatment and ongoing recovery efforts.
Typically, the effects of addiction can be devastating – both physically and emotionally.
Physically, addictions can have dangerous side effects for the substance abuser, up to and including the increased risk of illness, injury, or death because of drug abuse, alcohol use disorder, or other forms of substance abuse.
Emotionally, addiction can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and depression in the person who is using an addictive substance, as well as strained relationships with their extended family and friends.
The far-reaching impact of addiction also means it can be difficult for the person’s family and friends to cope when their loved one is struggling with an addiction. This is because witnessing someone they care about in such pain can bring up a range of emotions – from anger and frustration to sadness and grief.
Substance use problems affect the individual on a personal level, but its domino effect is felt by their loved ones, as well. Addiction issues have been called a family disease because family members and close friends are also likely to bear the negative consequences, which can range from feelings of guilt and anger to emotional trauma.
The person’s behavior may be unpredictable. Their moods likely fluctuate between excitement, joy, irritability, and aggression. This type of instability can lead to physical confrontations or verbal altercations that cause further damage to relationships. During the recovery process, these behavior problems can continue, at least initially.
There may also be social isolation when a family member struggles with the effects of a substance use disorder. This can worsen any existing depression or mental health problems.
In a professional setting, an employee who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is more likely to struggle with meeting deadlines, communicating effectively with colleagues and employers, and maintaining overall job performance – all of which have far-reaching implications for their career trajectory.
In turn, family members and friends might feel helpless or overwhelmed trying to help their loved one get better. They may also feel guilt or shame for not being able to “fix” the problem or for not having noticed the addiction sooner.
On top of this, the entire family may be under stress from financial problems or legal troubles that can arise from a loved one’s addiction. They may also have to take on additional responsibilities to help make up for the duties their loved one is unable to perform due to their substance use disorder.
Oftentimes, however, those closest to the person can be instrumental in helping them seek out the necessary resources for recovery, such as counseling or addiction treatment programs. Additionally, talking openly about their loved one’s addiction can help reduce any stigma that may otherwise prevent the person from seeking help.
Because of these concerns, I always recommend that those close to someone struggling with addiction and a substance abuse disorder find support to help them cope effectively with their situation.
Reach out to a professional therapy provider who understands the difficulties involved when a loved one has an addiction. In this way, family and friends can learn healthy ways to cope with the challenges of supporting someone with an addiction.
Addiction can cause family dynamics to become strained due to numerous factors.
- The individual with an addiction may withdraw from the family, making communication difficult and creating a barrier between family members.
- Any financial troubles incurred by the addiction can lead to tension, resentment, and other negative emotions within the family unit.
- Immediate family members run a higher risk of physical abuse, domestic violence, and / or emotional abuse by those with an addiction problem.. In fact, the American Addiction Centers notes, “Alcohol or drug use is involved in 40-60% of domestic abuse situations.“
- Seeing their loved one suffer as a result of addiction can also lead to feelings of guilt, helplessness, and frustration for the whole family.
All of these issues can cause long-term damage in relationships if not properly addressed, which is why it is so important for families affected by addiction to reach out for help from professionals who have been trained in substance abuse recovery and therapy.
Drug abuse in the family has several associated factors. These include genetic predisposition, environmental influences, peer pressure, and mental health issues. Family dynamics are also an important factor – a lack of structure or rules can increase the risk of drug use among family members.
Additionally, the addict may find themselves under greater financial strain to support their addiction, leading to problems such as stress and relationship conflict that can contribute to further substance use.
Also, there is evidence that the disease of addiction can be passed down through generations due to learned behaviors being modeled by parents and other family members. Emotional distress on the part of children of addicts can also lead to a greater risk of a future drug problem or alcohol abuse as the child gets older.
Ultimately, understanding the many contributing factors of drug addiction within families is essential for providing effective treatment and support.
Families of addicts can likewise benefit from having access to resources that provide information on the different ways they can best support their loved ones. With this guidance, they may be better able to help the person on their journey toward recovery.
Addiction in families can lead to a variety of different outcomes, both positive and negative.
On the negative side, addiction can result in strained or broken relationships between family members, financial stress, health issues for those affected by their loved one’s substance use disorder, and even criminal behavior.
On the positive side, families can come together to support their loved ones in times of need. These supportive relationships are very important for helping an individual on their journey toward recovery, and can further strengthen the bonds between family members.
In addition, when a person is willing to take part in treatment and actively works towards recovery, it can be incredibly empowering for both the individual and their family. It shows that change is possible and gives hope that things will eventually improve.
This experience can enable families to work through difficult situations together while providing them with a greater sense of optimism about the future.
Ultimately, addiction affects each family differently, depending on various factors such as the nature of relationships within the family unit or how well they communicate.
Research has shown that people who have supportive family members are more likely to achieve successful long-term recovery than those who don’t have that degree of encouragement. Support might come in the form of emotional, practical, and/or financial assistance, a listening ear, or simply being present and offering reassurance when needed.
It is also important to remember that family and friends are likely struggling with their own feelings of grief, guilt, and worry and should try to seek out support groups, family therapy, and use appropriate self-care strategies.
Living with someone who has an addiction can be a challenging process. There will be many times when it might be difficult to remember that the person struggling with addiction needs compassion, understanding, and support, rather than judgment or criticism.
For that reason, taking care of yourself is essential to being able to provide adequate support and help for your loved one.
Self-care strategies include:
- Getting regular exercise
- Using relaxation techniques
- Spending quality time with friends and family
- Talking to a therapist
- Attending a support group
Additionally, it’s beneficial for those affected by the addiction to seek out services from professionals such as therapists, social workers, or peer counselors who specialize in helping families cope with substance use disorder. This kind of outside assistance can make a big difference in navigating the complex emotions that come from living in an addicted family.
Again, it can be helpful to keep in mind that addiction is not a moral failing. Family members of addicted individuals should never feel ashamed or powerless.
Therapy, counseling, and other evidence-based approaches are available to help addicted individuals and their families identify the underlying causes of addiction and develop a plan to overcome it sustainably in the long term.
Look for individual therapy sessions as well as group therapy sessions so that everyone affected by the disease can express themselves openly without fear of judgment or criticism.
Addiction takes a toll on more than just the person struggling with substance abuse. It’s important to understand how addiction affects family and friends so that you can best help your loved ones through this difficult time.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. There are many resources available to those affected by addiction, and there is no shame in asking for assistance. With the right treatment plan and support system, people with addiction can recover and live healthy, happy lives.