The 6 Ways Drug Addiction Affects The Family The Most

therapist explaining 6 ways drug addiction affects the family

A drug addict has one primary focus – where their next “fix” is going to come from and when that fix will take place. The drug user’s lack of self-respect, and lack of respect for those around them, become evident very quickly. The drugs become a priority over everything else in their lives. Lifetime Recovery, located in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, can help you or your loved one change that focus. We are ready to help you or your loved one make your family a priority once again. 

When the drug addict is your family member the emotional toll and effect that the addiction has on your entire family can be overwhelming. The stress of the overall situation, the fear of your loved one getting caught with an illegal substance, and the financial strain it can place on your family are very real. The drug addict will choose drugs over choosing to be a responsible, contributing member of the family every chance he or she gets.

Having a family member who is addicted to drugs is never easy, no matter which family member it is. The direct effect that the addiction has on everyone in the family will vary depending on who the drug addict is. Parents who are dealing with their own child who is abusing drugs face different issues and challenges compared to a child who is dealing with a parent (or parents) who is addicted to drugs. If you are the spouse of someone who is an addict then your situation is also different.

Serious Ways That Substance Abuse Affects A Family

1. The Effect On Children

The children of a parent (or parents) who is addicted to drugs may feel the effects of the situation for a lifetime. The parent who is addicted has no regard for responsibility beyond their own selfish need to remain high. Children suffer the consequences of the lack of love and support in the home.

The lifestyle of a drug-abusing parent has a tremendous effect on a child. Issues in the home can range from lack of supervision, nutrition problems, emotional stress, and exposure to illegal activities. All of these forms of neglect can cause a child to have many personal issues throughout their life. 

The lifelong issues of living with a drug-addicted parent may include such things as: 

  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Guilt
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Poor self-image

2. An Increase In Stress

Living with someone who is addicted to drugs presents many challenges to the entire family. For the spouse of the addicted person, it is a true juggling act and a test of the marriage. Rather than the marriage being a partnership, it becomes a solo act. The sober partner has to take on the full responsibility of everything – bills, chores, children, etc.

The life of those who are under the same roof as someone who is abusing drugs is exhausting and very stressful. The pressure to “cover” for the drug abuser is also very real. In an attempt to keep a handle on outward appearances and try to lessen the angry outbursts of the addict, the sober parent or partner can become codependent. Unfortunately this only increases the stress.

3. A Loss of Trust

Trust is an important value in any relationship. When trust is broken it can create a ripple effect of problems. Because a drug addict is not focusing on much else than their next high, their commitment to their family is not a priority.

The broken promises and lack of follow-through affect everyone in the family. Spouses become frustrated to the point of dissolving the marriage. If children are disappointed multiple times by the drug-abusing parent, the results may last a lifetime. It may lead to them feeling as if they cannot trust anyone and continue to have trust issues for their entire lives.

If the abuser is a daughter or son, the lack of trust creates an environment where the parent(s) may feel the need to compensate for the poor behavior. In an attempt to fix things, a parent will make excuses for their son/daughter. This only creates a codependent situation and makes the drug abuser feel justified for ignoring their responsibilities.

4. Increased Financial Strain

In a household where a member of the family is addicted to drugs, there can be a strain on finances. Drugs are not a cheap “hobby”. The amount of money that is needed for everyday necessities such as food, rent, mortgage, and clothing gets reduced. 

There are other financial concerns that may arise from the lack of finances as well. Things such as these can be affected:

  • The need to sell your valuables: In order to make ends meet you may find that selling things of value is necessary in order to avoid further financial hardship.
  • Stealing: To support their addiction, the user may steal credit cards, money, or any other item of value.
  • Depletion of other financial accounts: As a way to pay your bills you may find it necessary to use funds from your savings, retirement, or other savings accounts.
  • Loss of job for the addict: Employers do not tolerate drug abuse. If the abuser loses his/her job a bigger financial burden is placed on the family.

5. Creation of Fear and Confusion

A person who is abusing drugs can have very erratic behavior. During rare moments of sobriety, there can be an air of calm, and a sense of peace. Once the drug begins to wear off the addict can take on a personality that creates turmoil and things become stressful for everyone. This is not a healthy environment for anyone to live in.

Those who are living with the parent or child who is addicted to drugs are constantly trying to balance life around the mood of the abuser. The actions of the drug addict are also unpredictable. Children who are exposed to this atmosphere can be traumatically affected. 

Children of drug abusers may experience problems with things such as

  • Their own health
  • Self-confidence
  • Social development
  • Anger
  • Future addiction issues for themselves

6. Potential Physical and Emotional Abuse

The family that is dealing with someone who is addicted to drugs may face potential abuse – both of the physical and emotional kind. The erratic behavior of the drug abuser can create a tumultuous atmosphere. Small disagreements can quickly escalate into huge fights. There is no predictable pattern to the abusers’ behavior.

Physical abuse may never have been an issue before drugs entered the picture. Frustration with the circumstances creates a climate full of anxiety and stress. Both the drug abuser as well as their family members may become the victim of physical abuse.

Emotional abuse can occur simply due to the stress of dealing with the drug addict and also that of knowing that there are drugs in the home. The instability that is created causes many changes in the dynamics of the family. Blame is placed on both the drug abuser as well as from the abuser to their family members. Emotionally, this can create feelings of failure for both.

Family Therapy As A Treatment Option

The treatment process for someone who has an addiction to drugs needs to be expanded and include all members of the drug addict’s family. Drug abuse affects all family members at different levels. Therefore it is important to seek and provide help for everyone.

Family therapy can open the lines of communication. It can allow discussions to take place with a therapist who is impartial and available to guide conversations in a healthy manner.  Healing needs to occur with all family members and family therapy is a great way to begin that process.

While undergoing therapy treatments, it may be discovered that family therapy may not be the only therapy that is needed. Other individual therapy and treatment options can include:

  • Multifamily group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Psychological consultations

Find Family Addiction Treatment at Lifetime Recovery

Substance Abuse Treatment In New Jersey

At Lifetime Recovery, our approach to the treatment of drug addiction focuses on a wide range of intensive programs and services. We offer family therapy, family education workshops, and family-based events. Our staff will work with you and your loved one to find the perfect balance of services to meet your needs.

We offer a holistic and therapeutic approach to healing at our Lifetime Recovery facility. We are focused on finding a long-term solution for you or your loved one’s addiction to drugs. We believe that in order for this solution to be successful it is important that the process includes all family members. Building support and trust are necessary for everyone involved in the treatment process.

We know that the journey that led you to reach this point has not been easy. Our experienced staff at Lifetime Recovery looks forward to speaking with you about the recovery process. Please reach out to us today for more information and find out how to take the first step.

Treating mental health and trauma

Our behavioral health and substance abuse treatment experts also treat co-occurring disorders/dual diagnoses (including trauma), and we are one of the few alcohol and drug rehab centers offering gambling addiction treatment.