By Bill Nee, VP Sales/Marketing uVera Diagnostics
When one person in a family is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it affects the whole family. This blog will discuss the mental, physical and financial impacts of drug addiction on an entire family.
Drug Addiction Affects the Whole Family
Drug addiction and alcohol impacts family dynamics, and it puts stress on the entire family unit, mentally, physically and financially. Drugs not only affect the user. Unspoken words, actions and verbal communication can hurt feelings and can become violent. When that happens:
- Often alcohol or drug addiction pushes family members to become withdrawn. Family members do not know how to cope with the stress and tension and therefore retreat into themselves.
- Family members become unable to show their true selves because they are in constant fear of triggering a negative reaction that can spiral out of control.
- Reality can easily vanish as family members or the addict themselves attempt to deny the problem.
- Tension can cripple the family. Conflict not only arises between the addict and other family members, but also, like a ripple effect, family tension can spread between all family members.
- Family members who speak against the addiction problems can sometimes be seen as “against the family.”
- Occasionally feelings of exclusion are felt by siblings and spouses because the family is so focused on the addict.
Conflict builds, communication suffers and vaporizes the healthy, functioning family unit that once existed.
Children of Alcoholics or Drug Addicts
Children of parents struggling with alcohol or drug addiction encounter hurdles in relationships and can completely veer off course in their own behavioral development. Children and teens are especially vulnerable in this family dynamic.
- They feel helpless.
- They may learn to have dysfunctional relationships and do not trust others.
- They may develop self-loathing and act out.
- They learn to shut down to avoid emotional pain.
- They are susceptible to anxiety and phobias.
- They tend to exhibit high-risk behaviors and may seek negative behaviors to receive attention.
- Their feelings and behavior can go from zero to ten, with nothing in between to self-regulate.
- They generally will avoid activities at home.
- They feel a sense of loss.
There is help available through The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA). Their mission is to “eliminate the adverse impact of alcohol and drug use on children and families.”
Alcohol or Drug Abuse in Teens
Alcohol or drug abuse isn’t limited to the parents. If a child or teenager is abusing drugs or alcohol, the family dynamics change, and there are negative consequences.
- Parents often learn to focus on the teenager with alcohol or drug abuse problems instead of taking care of themselves.
- Often other family members are forced to take on the chores and responsibilities of the teens who are abusing drugs or alcohol.
- There is more tension in the home.
- Siblings may act out to get more attention since the attention in the home is focused on the substance abusing teenager.
- Siblings may choose alcohol and drug abuse, following in the footsteps of the sibling.
uVera Diagnostics has published a valuable tool, Addressing Teenage Substance Abuse: A Parent’s Guide. This is free to download by clicking here.
Financial Stresses of Addiction
The financial strain of alcohol or drug addiction only increases the high levels of stress put on the family. These financial stresses may include:
- Payment for rehab and/or therapy
- Legal fees or fines if the family member has gotten into legal trouble
- Theft of money or belongings if the addict is a child or teen and needs to support his or her habit
Family Recovery from a Members Alcohol or Drug Addiction
Because an entire family is affected by drugs and alcohol, the family, not just the addict, should seek counseling. Counseling programs will focus on:
- Educating the family on how addiction affects family
- Reconnecting family relationships
- Learning communication skills
- Ending old behaviors
- Refocusing on self and examining personal responsibilities within the family
- Engaging in family activities
- Preparing for relapses
For more information, read our blog on How to get Help with Drug Rehab. Complete family recovery programs are available at some drug addiction treatment centers such as the Betty Ford Center. To look up treatment centers near you visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.
Are you or did you grow up in a home with an addict? Please share how this affected your family dynamics below in the comments.
Posted by Bill Nee, VP Sales/Marketing uVera Diagnostics and Co-designer and Developer of the CR3 split-sample drug test cup. Bill has 25 years in sales management and marketing and is a 10 year veteran of the drug testing industry. As a parent and co-worker, Bill’s energy is focused on drug testing on every level. Addiction is all around us in alcohol, prescriptions and street drugs, and that is a constant reminder a drug free society starts with each and every one of us.
For more information on drug testing, click here or call 1-866-242-5930.
This information is meant for awareness and education purposes only. Any medical or life saving advice should come from experts. Always consult with your physician about any and all drugs.
Sources: ncadd.org, nacoa.org, or.americanmentalhealth.com, livestrong.com
Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.com by David Castillo Dominici (Couple Arguing, Mother Holding Child, and Teenager with Mother) and by Hin22 (Thumbs Up Circle)