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Addicts: How Addiction Affects Families

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Battling a substance abuse disorder is challenging, but many people do not consider how addiction affects families. 

Since illicit substances can have negative, life-changing effects on the user, a person may overlook how addiction impacts the user’s loved ones. Not only do users face long-term emotional, financial, legal, and medical hardships, but so do their relatives and friends. 

Continue reading to learn more about the difficulties of overcoming addiction. 

Why is Combatting Addiction so Difficult?

Unfortunately, there is no single answer to this question because addiction is multi-layered. However, we know that many users develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol due to physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual forces. Some people can overcome painful feelings without much hassle because they can face their problems with minimal fear, ask for help when they need it, and approach their worries with perspective.

 

On the other hand, some people are consumed by their painful emotions due to biological and genetical factors. Sometimes, these feelings become too challenging to overcome, so they want to get rid of them quickly. These people may want to have complete control over their lives, and they may live with crippling anxiety about their futures. 

In today’s blog, we will delve into how addiction affects families. 

Impact of Addiction on Parents

No matter how old a parent’s children are, discovering that their child is addicted to illicit substances is an unpleasant, rude awakening. Processing this harsh reality can cause mothers and fathers to question their parental abilities, including how they raised their children. Unfortunately, many parents of those who are addicted to drugs blame themselves for their child’s dependency on illicit substances. 

 

When parents have teenagers who are addicted to drugs, they at least have some control over their child’s finances and can set ground rules. Parents have the power to stage an intervention and can convince their teenager to accept professional treatment. However, parents of adult users do not have the ability to impose consequences for substance abuse. Additionally, it is more challenging for these parents to set up an intervention because an adult user may grow defensive and tell their parents they do not have to listen to them. 

Impact of Addiction on Children

A child whose parents are addicted to drugs will be unable to live a normal childhood. Here are a few statistics on how children are impacted by parental drug addiction:

  • Approximately 1 in 35 children (2.1 million) lived in households with at least one parent who had a past-year illicit drug use disorder, according to SAMHSA. 
  • 1 in 3 children entered foster care because of parental drug abuse in 2017, according to Child Trends

Sadly, many children with parents who are drug users end up assuming parental roles, particularly if they have younger siblings. Often, these children are unable to enjoy their childhoods and carry the stress of going to school, completing homework, and caring for themselves and their siblings. 

 

Moreover, children will observe their parents and grow curious about their habits; they may even attempt to mirror their parents’ actions. Most children are also great at verbalizing their feelings, but even if a parent’s child is quiet, they should not assume that their kid does not know what is going on. 

 

Furthermore, children living with parents who are addicted to drugs may experience medical neglect and skip school often because their parents may be too inebriated to drive them to the doctor or school. Ultimately, the stress children endure from the turmoil at home can cause permanent psychological and emotional damage that will follow them into adulthood. 

Impact of Addiction on Spouses

Substance abuse can result in physical and verbal altercations in a domestic partnership. Alcohol and drugs can ruin a relationship or marriage, and this is particularly common in partnerships where only one partner experiences addiction. One partner’s drug addiction can lead to the other partner tackling an unfair share of the household’s responsibilities, including chores and spending time with children. 

 

On the other hand, a relationship with two addicts can result in both partners enabling each other. When both spouses are addicted to drugs or alcohol, their household’s environment may become more toxic as a result. At least in relationships where only one person is addicted to drugs, the sober partner can encourage their significant other to get professional help. Additionally, they can take on most of the household’s responsibilities while their partner sobers up. 

 

Moreover, the effects of drug addiction can result in co-dependency, which refers to individuals who are overly infatuated with another person to the point of dysfunction. In the context of addiction, it refers to individuals who put the needs of the addict before their own, even when it is unhealthy. Sadly, many co-dependent couples will justify every poor choice their drug-addicted partner makes just to remain in their good graces. 

Impact of Addiction on Families as a Whole

When a person makes excuses, explanations, and lies for a loved one, they are enabling them to remain in denial of their addiction. A person can help their loved one overcome their addiction by doing the following:

  • Staging an intervention for them
  • Helping them join Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Signing them up for emotionally focused therapy
  • Helping them find a reputable rehab center
  • Enlisting the help of everyone in the user’s life—which includes other family members, friends, and sometimes co-workers
  • Encouraging them to partake in a 12-step fellowship or sober living program
  • Creating an environment that can help them emain sober

The strain of drug or alcohol abuse can divide an otherwise loving home. Conflict may become commonplace, trust may dissipate, and relatives may put their guards up as the user becomes more aggressive and dependent on drugs. Many times, addiction affects families by causing failed marriages or estranged relationships between parents and their kids. 

Receive Treatment and Support at Ardu Recovery Center

Anyone who has ever struggled with substance abuse knows that addiction affects families. If you or a loved one needs to break the cycle of addiction, Ardu Recovery Center can help. We are an innovative mental health treatment and addiction rehab center that helps residents achieve sobriety so that they can live healthy and fulfilling lives. 

We are located in Provo, Utah. Reach out to us today to learn more.

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