Addiction affects the family in many ways, including emotionally, financially, legally, and medically.
The Many Ways Addiction Affects the Family
Battling a substance use disorder is viewed by many as a personal experience. Because harmful substances have devastating effects on the user, many may not take into consideration other people directly involved—how addiction affects the family. Spouses, children, and parents who witness a family member struggling with addiction experience emotional damage, as well as financial, legal, medical, and other consequences.
The effects of drug and alcohol addiction can be both short-term and long-term. Peaceful, loving homes can be divided by the strain caused by drug and alcohol abuse. Conflict becomes normal as family members fight to engage in a son or daughter who abuses heroin, for example. Trust begins to erode. Relatives may become more guarded if a relative abusing illicit substances act with aggression or hide their disorder in secrecy. Marriages can end due to changes caused by addiction. Communication becomes more difficult, highlighting frustration.
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Family members see their relative endure side effects of drugs or fly into rages when under the influence of alcohol. Others may see their relatives lose weight rapidly, becoming unrecognizable. Some may not hear from a loved one for an extended period of time, only to discover they are living on the street or have fatally overdosed. Such shock can cause a relative to endure severe trauma or develop unhealthy coping mechanisms like codependent behaviours in response.
In the end, the family will break, and the tragedy of it is that some of the children may exhibit that kind of behaviour.