Table of Contents
Drug use not only affects the person from mind to body, but it also puts a strain on those closest to them.
Family members may experience shame, anger, fear, or self-blame if their loved one uses drugs. The extent of the effect also depends on how long the drugs have been in their life. Drug addiction’s consequences can be so overwhelming that it is easier to ignore them. However, if you are close to someone struggling with addiction and know something is wrong, avoiding it will likely add to the distress experienced by all concerned.
This article will explore six common effects of drug addiction on family members and the professional support available
Download our Brochure
Effects of Drug Addiction on Family Members
Drug addiction has devastating effects on the individual using drugs. But it can also take a toll on their loved ones. It is painful to witness someone close to you become increasingly reclusive, struggling financially, ignoring family responsibilities, exhibiting out-of-character behaviours, concealing their usage, partaking in risky activities, and ultimately developing physical and mental health issues.
Over time, the consequences of substance abuse may irreparably damage relationships between the addicted person and those around them, be it family members, friends, or any other connection.
The Connection Between Drug Addiction and a Person’s Family
When someone abuses drugs, they are not the only ones in pain. Their family members bear the burden of the addiction as well.
If an addicted parent neglects their children, it can leave them feeling emotionally and financially neglected and deprived of a secure and healthy upbringing.
Drug use may also lead to abusive behaviour towards the child from parents. They may carry this emotional trauma into adulthood and require therapy to cope with it.
For pregnant mothers, drug abuse can cause lasting damage to their unborn babies.
When drug users still live with or are close to their parents, they impact them psychologically and mentally, leading to lives fraught with stress and worry, damaging their health. There may be financial losses due to stealing money for drugs.
The impact of drug addiction on family members is immediate and direct. Those affected by a loved one’s addiction often need help to understand the situation better and handle it in a way that protects and supports all concerned.
How Addiction Impacts Young Children
Young children are most likely to suffer the consequences when one or both of their parents suffers from an addiction. They depend on their parents for everything from food and a place to sleep to emotional support and security.
Addiction can cause parents to put their children in harm’s way and neglect them from being given all that they need. Fear, stress and doubt become everyday occurrences for young children in this position.
In cases of addicted pregnant mothers, the child starts to be impacted before birth as drugs may bring about congenital diseases or infections at delivery.
Pregnancy and Long-Term Impact
Consuming drugs or alcohol while pregnant can hurt the unborn child’s healthy development. The first trimester is delicate and hazardous when it comes to taking any substances because it is during this time that the baby’s brain is forming.
The second and third trimesters mainly focus on the growth of the fetus’ organs and limbs, and taking substances remains risky, even more so if it is done in large quantities and often.
The impact of drug use during pregnancy can be long-lasting for the child. Science links learning issues and problems manifesting in the early years of life to drug use during pregnancy. Scientists are also looking into the possibility that these young people may be more prone to using alcohol or other drugs during adolescence.
Financial Problems Lead to Food Insecurity and Instability for Children
The financial burden of drug addiction is immense. Not only does it take an emotional, physical, and mental toll on the user, but all available assets are typically used to fund their addiction. Some even resort to stealing when their resources run out.
When one or both parents are addicted, their children may fall into a cycle of food insecurity and other instability. Families in this cycle need professional support to minimise the harm caused by such circumstances, especially the children growing up in them.
Growing up with an addicted parent or parents is a significant source of daily stress for their children.
A lack of stable routines leaves these children constantly concerned with questions like what they will eat, when, and what the atmosphere will be at home. This lifestyle makes it difficult for children to focus on their development and interests, and the entirety of their life revolves around their parents’ addictions, robbing them of joy and fulfilment.
Confusion and Fear Can Develop
The children of addicted parents are often scared of them.
Drugs can lead people to become violent with their children and partners. An addicted parent may also introduce drug associates and dealers into the house, putting the child in potential danger. Moreover, addiction brings about toxic parent-child relationships due to the unstable environment caused by fluctuating sobriety. The parent might promise to quit and then not follow through, destroying trust.
In conclusion, when a child faces persistent negative parental experiences due to drug addiction, it can have a long-term effect on their physical and mental development.
How Addiction Affects Parents
For a parent of an addicted individual, the emotional distress can be overwhelming. Even if their child is an adult, parents may experience guilt and shame for not being able to prevent substance abuse.
If the addicted person still resides with their parents or remains close to them, it can cause tension in the relationship and make connecting challenging. Parents of addicted people may also face financial problems that come with addiction.
The relationship between an individual in addiction and their parents is often strained and unpredictable. Children struggling with addiction may try to hide it or distance themselves from their parents to avoid judgment.
Meanwhile, parents may feel guilt and worry about what they did wrong to cause the addiction. The situation can also result in misunderstandings and resentful feelings on both sides; parents become anxious over their child’s drug addiction while the child blames their parents for it.
Addiction does not only happen to those living in dysfunctional family environments: children with loving, caring parents can still become addicts.
When drug addiction strikes in a healthy family setting, the emotional impact on the parents can be devastating.
Physical and Emotional Abuse May Happen
If they are still living in the family home, individuals grappling with drug addiction may abuse their family members and parents physically and emotionally.
They may go as far as manipulating their parents into funding their addiction, guilt-tripping them, and placing all blame on them.
In addition, they may behave violently towards their parents when they do not receive the money they demand or simply because drugs — or lack thereof — make them angry and prone to aggression. Living with someone battling addiction, regardless of whether it is your child, puts you in danger and jeopardises your safety.
While helping your child overcome addiction is crucially important, it is equally essential that you live in a safe and secure environment.
Enduring a life of anxiety, stress, and fear is a life wasted, and it can lead to severe physical and mental health issues over time. If you have a child struggling with drug addiction, always remember that just like your child deserves help, so do you.
Effects of Drug Addiction on Spouses
When addiction takes over your spouse’s life, living with them can be excruciating and distressing. Despite the promise to stay together through thick and thin, a partner’s drug or alcohol use can make it difficult to love and be around them. They may become unresponsive and selfish and may even hurt you in many ways, both physically and emotionally.
Let us look at what it takes to be the spouse of someone struggling with addiction and stay in such a relationship.
Isolation From Loved Ones
People addicted to a substance often shut themselves off from the world, leaving their partners alone with all of life’s problems, including raising children if they have any.
Addicted spouses can also fail to meet their family’s responsibilities, become violent toward those around them, and even view their partner as an obstacle to indulging in their addiction. This lack of communication and trust between the two parties can result in resentment, pain, and emotional and physical abuse. Unfortunately, many partners of addicted people eventually leave due to this stress and pressure.
Those who remain must understand that they do not have to sacrifice their well-being to help someone else. It is ultimately up to the addict to decide to change their life. All their partner can do is support that choice without endangering themselves. Facing addiction together is challenging, so therapy may be beneficial to work through the trying times, start talking again, set boundaries, and avoid carrying the trauma.
Contact Us Today
How Family Therapy Can Help With Addiction
Family therapy is an invaluable tool when a family member is struggling with addiction, as it helps those affected understand the situation and navigate it without guilt. It helps relatives get a better perspective on the effect the drug addiction of their loved one has on them and provides an avenue for discussion between family members without resentment or tension. Also, family therapy can aid individuals in comprehending their family dynamics as a whole and foster more healthy relationships among family members.
Finally, witnessing someone going through an addiction can cause trauma; therapy is necessary to process and prevent carrying it throughout life.
Other Help Available for Families
Family therapy is not the only way to support relatives of someone battling addiction.
Groups such as Families Anonymous and Al-Anon provide a safe space for families to share their stories, gain emotional and psychological assistance, and receive legal advice if needed.
If you think your safety or the safety of your children could be in danger, contact law enforcement immediately and then call for help. Take care of yourself and get out.
If you are struggling with a loved one’s addiction, call our friendly team on 041 214 5111. We are trained professionals who can help you find the support you need.
How Do I Get Back to My Family After a Drug Addiction?
It is necessary to create an environment for open communication to win back the trust of loved ones after drug addiction. You will need to demonstrate your commitment to recovery by fully engaging in all treatments and therapies planned for you and using the new skills you have learned in treatment to help fix broken relationships.
What Can Someone Do if a Family Member Is on Drugs?
If you have a loved one using drugs, gently encourage them to get help. You can contact a rehab specialist to understand why they may be abusing substances and their use patterns. It is important to remember that this is their choice; you cannot force them into sobriety.
How to Help a Family Member With Addiction and Depression
When trying to help a loved one who is struggling with depression or addiction, be supportive and offer your unconditional love and acceptance. Encourage them to seek professional help and stay in treatment, and let them know that you believe in them and will always be there for them.
Why Do People Blame Family Members for Their Addiction?
Addicts consciously or, more often, subconsciously use their family members as scapegoats to escape the embarrassment and guilt that comes with their substance abuse. They attempt to transfer the responsibility for their addiction and its accompanying consequences to their relatives.