On the surface, addiction might appear to be an individual disease that affects only the person using drugs or alcohol. In reality, addiction is a family disease that creates challenges for everyone in the household, and sometimes, extended family as well.
Addiction is a family problem for a couple of reasons. First, everyone in the family unit is impacted by their loved one’s actions. Family members are usually plagued with worry, loneliness, isolation, embarrassment and shame. Second, there are often destructive behaviors happening in the home, allowing the substance abuse to continue.
By recognizing that addiction is a family disease, loved ones can get the support they need to heal. They’ll also learn how to establish healthy boundaries, follow through with consequences and stop harmful patterns of behavior.
Let’s take a look at five ways that addiction can impact the family unit.
1. Ignoring Other Siblings
The brothers and sisters of addicts are often referred to as “invisible children” because they don’t get the same attention as their sibling. When one child is struggling with addiction, the extra focus goes to them. This can leave other siblings in the home feeling alone and isolated, increasing their risk for anxiety or depression. Brothers and sisters might also feel resentful toward their parents and sibling.
Most people with addiction are manipulative. They learn to be like this because it’s the only way they can keep using drugs or alcohol without consequences. Family members want to believe the best in their loved one, so they sometimes turn away from the problem. Deep down, they might suspect something is going on, but for now, it’s easier to believe what the addict is telling them.
Addiction is stressful. There’s unrest in the home, and the extra responsibilities fall on the spouse, parents or children. While they may not realize it, they’re becoming enablers while the addict is off doing what they want. All of this stress creates tension in the home that can lead to disrupted family relationships, mental health issues and stress-induced health problems.
4. Financial Problems
Even families that were once well-off can experience financial problems when there’s an addict in the household. First of all, paying for an addiction is not cheap. Eventually, some addicts lie, steal or prostitute to get the money they need. Second, when a person is actively using drugs or alcohol, they can lose their job and have trouble paying for food, clothing, utilities and other basic needs.
5. Physical and Emotional Abuse
When a person is under the influence, they may say and do things they don’t mean. This puts everyone on edge, as even the simplest conversations can turn into heated fights. With everyone acting out of character, it creates an unsettled home environment where younger children may continue the cycle of substance abuse.
Get Help for You and Your Family Today
When there’s an addict in the household, everyone suffers. If you and your family need help, contact Awakenings Treatment Center. We have a comprehensive addiction treatment program that works with individuals and families struggling with addiction.
Furthermore, we also have specific programs for LGBTQ+ members, trauma survivors and chronic pain sufferers. Our Family Support Program works with the entire family unit to help them heal, strengthen their bonds and learn effective strategies for dealing with the addict. Contact us today to start your family on the road to recovery.