The Impact of Drug Addiction on Family Relationships

Drug addiction can have a devastating effect on family relationships. Learn how substance abuse treatment works, how family interventions can be a first step toward recovery, and how to help children in families affected by alcohol and drug abuse.

The Impact of Drug Addiction on Family Relationships

Drug addiction can have a devastating effect on family relationships. Arguments between parents can be normal, but when drug use is involved, it can leave the child feeling emotionally and physically neglected and insecure. Early exposure to a household divided by drug use can cause the child to become more mentally and emotionally unstable. Alcohol and drug addiction not only affects the addict, but the entire family.

One of the most serious ways that addiction affects the entire family is the increased risk of abuse. Family members are more likely to experience violence at the hands of an addict, whether it's emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Studies show that 1 in 5 children grows up with a parent who abuses drugs or alcohol, leaving them feeling neglected and insecure. If a parent is struggling with an addiction or substance abuse problem, the effects of that disorder will most likely play a role in the child's development.

This is especially serious in single-parent homes, where children have no one else to turn to. Parents of addicted children can do everything they can to rescue a son or daughter from a destructive lifestyle, only to experience the anguish of seeing their child return to that lifestyle over and over again. Worst of all, addiction undermines loving and trusting relationships that sustain a healthy family. Children can be forced to play the role of parents for parents who can no longer function independently. Spouses can hide their addictions from their partners, lying about their actions or expenses.

They are also likely to forget the promises they make to their children. If this becomes a trend, the child will find it difficult to form bonds with other people, since he does not know how to trust. This loss of trust often results in broken marriages and dysfunctional children. Pets are also likely to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to escape childhood trauma. Substance abuse treatment works by helping families understand how addiction affects them and how they can help their loved one recover. Family interventions can be a first step toward recovery, and there are many professionals who can help families cope with the effects of addiction and repair broken ties. Many people tend to focus on the physical effects of drug addiction rather than the impact of substance abuse on families.

However, it is important to remember that substance abuse affects many areas of a person's life, and one or two changes in habits or appearance don't necessarily prove that a loved one is abusing drugs. At the end of the day, drug addiction can end up causing much more than physical harm to a person's body. It can end up bringing out the worst in someone, resulting in lying, making excuses, and failing to keep promises. Drug addiction and abuse can end up causing confusion and sometimes frightening changes in a loved one. Restoring those relationships which were often damaged long before substance abuse began requires time, patience and the support of experienced addiction professionals.