When most people think of addiction, it is with respect to the addicted individual, how they feel, and how to help them get better. It is easy to forget the family members, including spouses, parents, siblings, and children. 

The effects of drug addiction on family members exceeds the pain of watching a relative lose themselves to addiction. It also affects the family unit financially, medically, and legally. 

From spouse and children to siblings and parents, the effects of addiction on family members vary. Each member of the family feels the impact differently in ways that require treatment as well. 

But before explaining the effects of addiction on the family unit, what is addiction? How do you know if your relative is struggling with a substance use disorder? 

Addiction Defined

There are many perceptions and definitions of addiction, which range from addition being a compulsive behavior to a co-dependency on a particular substance. These definitions are correct to an extent, but addiction covers such large broadband of situations that defining it inclusively is difficult, but not impossible. 

The best definition that fully explains addiction is this definition by the American Society of Addiction Medicine(ASAM). 

According to them, addiction is defined as “a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences that cause individuals to compulsively use substances or engage in some behaviors despite harmful effects. 

Some common addictions include alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, drug addiction, sex addiction, and more.

All addictions, especially drug addiction, affect the addicted individual first, but the effects of drug addiction on family members would become apparent sooner or later. 

What Are the Effects of Addiction on the Family?

Like we stated earlier, drug addiction affects the members of the family.

Collectively, substance abuse affects families differently depending on the structure of the family. For example, in a traditional nuclear family, the impact on the children would be lessened than it would be in a single-parent home. Why? In a nuclear family, the other spouse might try hard to compensate for the addicted spouse’s failure. The children would not feel the financial and emotional implications of addiction because the other spouse would act as a support. 

Although things might look rosier in the traditional nuclear family, children are often exposed to their parents’ trauma, fighting, and possible domestic violence episodes. Some families even break up as a result of addiction. 

In a single-parent home, the effects are far more impacting on the children. In many instances, the caregiver’s role is reversed as children start taking care of the parent. 

Other effects like emotional and financial neglect are felt more keenly in single-parent homes because there’s no other parent figure to pick up the slack. 

The effects of drug addiction on family members can have common themes despite the differences in family structure. 

A common theme in both homes is the loss of trust, emotional neglect, and heartbreak on the part of the spouse and children. In families where an adolescent has a substance use disorder, these common themes are felt by parents and siblings. 

How to Get Help When Dealing With Someone Else’s Addiction

When an addicted relative seeks treatment, things don’t change automatically. Trust isn’t automatically restored, and feelings of anger and hurt don’t go away. This is why the family unit, as well as the individual, need to get help. 

How do family members get help? By getting help from treatment centers that offer family counseling sessions for the patient and family members.

At Grace Recovery treatment center, we offer a wide range of treatment options, including dual diagnosis, medicated assisted treatment, and different drug addiction therapies. Reach out to us today for help. We are ready to help you and your family find a new beginning! 

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