Substance abuse affects a person’s life and the road to recovery is often seen as a personal one. Most people know the effects of alcohol and substance abuse on the addict. However, few people know what it does to the family. Addiction is a disease that affects the immediate and extended family in some instances.
The effects can be financial, psychological and even physical. You can get more information on how addiction affects the family in this narrative article.
- Financial instability
Addicts are not able to hold down a job for long periods. This leaves the financial responsibility to other family members. If it was a dual income household, the financial burden goes to one person. This can make it difficult to get basic needs like food, shelter and eve pay for utilities.
There are also cases where the addict steals money and other valuables to sell and fuel their addiction. This reduces the amount of money available in the household. In most cases, having an addicted family members lowers the living standards of the family.
There are different emotions that come to play when a family member is struggling with addiction. The common ones are resentment, fear, mistrust and even anger. However, they can also feel ashamed because of the addict’s behavior. This can make the family segregate themselves and start avoiding social functions. They feel embarrassed and do not want to be associated with the addict.
Children can start avoiding going for functions if a parent is an addict because the parent can cause a scene. They fear the parent’s reactions and instead of risking, they opt to stay home.
- The risk of addiction increases
Studies have shown that children living in a home where there is an addict have a higher chance of falling into addiction. They can start self-medicating as a way of dealing with the stress they go through at home. This means that although addiction can start with one person, it can easily become a generational problem.
In a marriage where one spouse is an addict, they could form a co-dependent relationship with the non-addict especially if they area enablers. The spouse who is not an addict might develop a feeling of self-worth since they are the provider when it comes to the addict’s need. The addict might fuel the co-dependency by always going to the other spouse for anything they need including money to buy the drugs.
- Long-term damage
Children who have lived in homes where one or both parents were addicts carry the trauma for a long time. It can affect their adult lives and relationships. If they have children, they can be overprotective and prevent their children from doing any fun activities in the name of “protecting them”. This can make them have a strained relationship with their spouses and children.
It goes without saying that having an addict creates a harmful environment. In a house filled with negative feelings, family members start making condescending remarks. This can start as a way to discourage the addict but end up being a habit. If there are children, they might get used to the negative behavior and carry it to their relationships. They can also learn that the only way they can get the attention they need is by being negative which is not a good behavior.
- Increased abuse
There is a higher risk of some kind of abuse occurring in a home where there is an addict. The abuse is mainly domestic, sexual and child abuse. Unfortunately, children who were victims of abuse can turn into addicts and continue the abuse. The victim are often afraid of reporting the perpetrator because they fear there will be some kind of retaliation.
Being exposed to any form of abuse is traumatic and the effects can go beyond what is seen. It can affect their adult lives and make them develop trust issues. Without the proper treatment, they are likely to continue the cycle of abuse.
Addiction does not only affect an individual but the effects are felt in the society. Families that are living with an addict need to get help for the addict and themselves. There is help available for addicts and for families to help them start the healing process and get rid of the negative feelings they harbor.