Addiction is a terrible disease that can cause permanent damage to a person’s mental, emotional and physical health. Every year thousands of people lose their fight with addiction and end up dead as a result of an overdose. This is a hard toll to pay for a person with an addiction, but there is more to it than that. Substance abuse hurts the friends, family, and other loved ones of the person with the addiction, and it can cause damage to them as well.
Substance abuse is a disease, unlike the flu, diabetes, or hepatitis. It has ever reaching effects on the people that someone who is drinking or using drugs lives with, works with, and cares most about in life. Addiction is a very different kind of disease that does lasting harm to families and communities, not the least of which is that it perpetuates this cycle over and over. Substance abuse hurts families, and intervention is required to stop the cycle of addiction from continuing into another generation.
Addiction impacts every area of a person’s life, from the spiritual, to the moral, the emotional, mental, and physical. Drinking and drug use will have a negative impact on everything. One of the saddest ways addiction harms family is the social aspect of the disease. It changes the very way a family interacts with the world around them.
One of the first things that you will notice is that your family will slowly withdraw from life. If you have children, they may not want to invite their friends over to your home anymore. Your spouse may not want to attend social events together. Even neighbors may start to avoid you. And the reason? They are all uncomfortable around you when you are drunk or high. They may be embarrassed by your addicted behaviors. Addiction is harming them by isolating them from others, who could offer help, support, or even just a reality check that this is not how most people live their lives. If you are struggling with an addiction and want to get help, call Lakeview Health at (866) 704-7692.
Isolation is not the only social impact of addiction. Substance abuse changes the type of people with whom a family will associate. The person using will slowly isolate themselves as well. Soon, the only people that will want to be around them, besides family sticking with them through love and loyalty, are people who are just as addicted as they are. These will be people with serious substance abuse problems. They might even give the family member comfort, an excuse so they can say to themselves at least they aren’t using as much as their friend.
One other consequence that comes from substance abuse is that it increases the chances that children and other family members will be in trouble with the law. Children often turn to criminal activities, get in trouble with their school, and other forms of acting out that has the potential to haunt their lives forever. This acting out often is a means of screaming for help, or a means of getting attention from the person who is using, or just anyone who cares after a certain point. They want to feel like they matter to someone.
Many factors compound the pain of substance abuse. One of the worst ways that addiction harms a family is through domestic violence and other forms of relationship abuse.
Physical abuse, domestic violence, and other harmful acts are closely associated with addiction. In families with drinking or drug use, there is a higher amount of physical abuse among all family members. It does follow a sort of logic, substances lower inhibitions and distort thinking. Alcohol and drugs make a person more impulsive and lower their ability to tolerate stress or problems. When that happens, battery and other forms of domestic violence could occur. Regardless if the person did not hurt anyone when they are sober, they might do it while under the influence. Drugs and alcohol change the way a person thinks and acts, and unfortunately, abuse comes from this.
The other type of abuse that often happens in families with addiction is sexual abuse. This could happen to all family members, adults, and children alike. Again, the substances change the way a person acts and thinks, making them more likely to give in to impulses. It could also leave them unable to understand who is with them. They may think they are with their partner when in reality, it is their child. Partner on partner rape is also more common in relationships where substances are involved. A family is harmed by addiction, and one way is by assault, physical and sexual on family members.
One of the longest lasting ways that drinking and drug use harm a family is through the psychological harm done. People in families with addiction have to do many things to keep going and keep the family in balance. This does not mean they do things that are healthy or helpful; it just means that they do things and make decisions based on not causing any problems. The family learns they need to leave dad alone while he is in the basement smoking or drinking, so the family routine revolves around protecting dad while he is using.
These maladaptive patterns of behavior carry on throughout their lives, however. They may have learned how to act in a family with an addict, but they don’t work in a family without one. What is often seen is that the family members keep repeating these relationships until they find someone with an addiction. Then their ways of interacting suddenly work. They feel more comfortable, even though it’s not healthy. It’s what they learned growing up, and they will recreate it at all costs.
This is not the only harm done to a family by addiction. The harm comes in other ways that are equally invisible. For instance, people in a family with addiction will be more likely to experience depression and other mood disorders. The connection may seem obvious to those on the outside, a person using drugs or alcohol changes drastically, and this hurts people, their emotions, and their ability to cope with stress. Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are closely related to family members when a person abuses substances.
One final way that addiction harms the family is perhaps the worst one of all. Family members and children of people with drug or alcohol problems are much more likely to develop an addiction themselves. They will continue the cycle and keep repeating the same damage done to family members until an intervention happens.
This could be from genetics. There is evidence to suggest some people have a predisposition to substance abuse. This does not mean that anyone is cursed or fated to have an addiction. There are many ways to abstain, and education and knowing the risks of substance abuse is one of them.
Watching a family member go through the pain of addiction can be a tremendous learning experience. Learning is the other way that people are believed to transmit substance abuse to the next generation. Seeing your parent cope with stress by drinking teaches a person that is the way that adults cope. When they grow up, they start drinking when they are under pressure, without even really thinking about it or even knowing why. They learned it so long ago.
Having relatives in the house can be painful for someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol. Substance use is filled with shame and regret, and often the biggest regrets come from what happens with family. The positive that can come from this is that family members can be used as the biggest motivation to get clean and sober. Going to an inpatient treatment facility near you is one of the best ways to heal and help your family improve as well. This disease needs to be stopped, and you can live a sober life, so no more harm comes to your family.
Addiction is a disease as contagious as any cold, flu, or infection. It travels from family member to family member, from generation to generation. It hurts every area of family life, causing family members to ruin their own social lives and relationships as a result of another person’s addictions. Substance abuse damages the mental health and emotional well-being of everyone around it, even people who are not using drugs or alcohol. Worst of all, it continues on among family and children who keep this cycle of addiction going. There is no doubt addiction harms families in many ways; the only thing that needs to be answered is how can we help get you or your loved one into treatment to end this cycle now. Call Lakeview Health today (866) 704-7692 and we can help you our your loved one begin their path to recovery. Confidential help is available 24/7.
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