When people think of someone struggling with substance abuse, they typically think of it as a personal struggle. We tend to focus more on the person using drugs or alcohol rather than the family and friends who surround them. However, substance abuse and addiction directly affects the family of an addict in a variety of ways.
Whether it’s a spouse, parent, child or friend, they are all affected similarly due to a loved one’s addiction. In most cases, the relatives of someone struggling with addiction experience emotional trauma, as well as financial, legal, medical, and other directly related consequences.
Addictions Effects on Children
According to a study by Psychology Today, an estimated 27.8 million kids have grown up in a home where a family member has abused drugs or alcohol. This type of environment for a growing and learning child increases the likelihood of them developing a substance abuse disorder later in their adult years. Witnessing a parent abuse drugs or alcohol creates confusing and painful emotions within a young child. This sort of stress on the mind of a child can lead to complications in learning, development, as well as cause lasting mental and emotional problems.
Additionally, children have very impressionable minds and wild imaginations. If a child grew up in a home divided due to substance abuse, they are likely to experience feelings of neglect and a lack of security. As a result of living in this sort of environment, children can become emotionally unstable. In some cases, children may even experience feelings of guilt or responsibility for their parent’s addiction.
Spouses and Addiction
Having a parent struggling with addiction is undoubtedly difficult, but it’s just as difficult being married to someone struggling with addiction.
In a relationship where only one partner is an addict, the sober partner will almost always have to take on more responsibility and certain burdens the addicted party otherwise would. Additionally, the sober partner typically experiences emotional stress and in certain cases, physical and emotional abuse. All of these things tend to compound which leads to the majority of these kinds of relationships ending in divorce or separation.
A relationship where both partners are struggling with addiction creates a very toxic home environment. These types of relationships are less likely to end in divorce yet are a huge detriment to both parties involved. Both partners act as enablers to one another encouraging their mutual abuse of drugs or alcohol. This enablement will likely lead to the inevitable downfall of their relationship as the drugs or alcohol will become the priority over their relationship.
These types of relationships can also foster codependency. One partner becomes dependent on the one struggling with addiction; usually for monetary reasons. This type of codependency leads to one of the partners justifying the addiction of the other and enabling their addiction further.
Parents of Addicts
As a parent, regardless of how old your kids are, realizing your child has an addiction to drugs or alcohol comes as a painful awakening. This news often makes parents question their parenting abilities. Much like children, parents of an addict often blame themselves and take responsibility for the actions of their child.
However, parents of teens and adolescents that struggle with addiction and family still retain a certain level of control in their child’s life. With the child living under their roof, they can keep tabs on them more often and get them into a treatment program quicker and easier.
On the other hand, parents of adult addicts have much less control in making decisions for their addicted child. With the child not living at home it’s much harder to enforce household rules or make them attend a treatment program.
Regardless of your relationship to someone struggling with an addiction, living with them and maintaining a relationship with them can be an emotionally exhausting ordeal. However, it isn’t too late to try and find them help for their struggle.
Music City Interventions offers families an Intervention Specialist to empower them to confront their loved one and encourage them to seek treatment options. Music City Interventions also provides Treatment Center Placement for those looking for treatment. We lead the intervention as well as provide transportation to the treatment center. If you or a loved one is in search of help or treatment don’t hesitate to contact us.