Living with a family member facing substance abuse is more common than you might think. Approximately 25% of all American families have a first-degree relative with an addiction.
The negative effects of drug and alcohol addiction on the whole family can be numerous and long-lasting, especially if children are involved.
However, treatment is available, and research has shown that family involvement can help loved ones recover.
Common Family Issues Related To Addiction
When a loved one in the family has a drug or alcohol abuse problem, the effects on the whole family can be complex, with issues that may crop up in both the long and short term.
Addiction in the family may lead to:
- financial problems
- marital problems
- child abuse or neglect
- problems at school or work
- social isolation
- legal problems
- exposure to crime
Due to the nature of addiction, these and other family problems may be obvious to everyone except the person experiencing addiction.
Substance abuse is a mental health condition that often clouds thinking and judgment. One sign of addiction is an inability to stop using substances despite negative consequences.
Children Of Parents Experiencing Substance Abuse
Many parents experience substance abuse. Parental responsibilities can cause a lot of stress, and chronic stress is a known risk factor for addiction.
Parents may face chronic stress due to:
- stresses associated with having a baby
- stresses involved in raising a family
- stress in the workplace
- stress surrounding finances
It is estimated that more than one in 10 children under the age of 18 live with a family member with a substance use disorder (SUD).
Children with addicted parents are at an increased risk of developing mental health disorders in the future.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), adolescents with parents who have an SUD are also more likely to experience developmental problems.
Children of parents experiencing addiction may face:
- emotional problems (e.g., increased stress and anxiety)
- behavioral problems (e.g., acting out or withdrawing)
- future substance use
Teenage Substance Use Effects On The Family
With a teenager in the home who is experiencing substance abuse, the effects on the family can be complicated and unexpected.
There are a few risk factors associated with teen drug abuse, including substance use by other members of the family.
Other reasons why a teenager may experiment with drugs include:
- a mental health or behavioral health condition
- tendency toward impulsive/risky behavior
- earlier life trauma or abuse
- negative self-image
- outside social pressure
Substance abuse can be riskier for teenagers because of the increased likelihood that they will use alcohol or drugs in greater amounts than older family members.
This can be in the form of binge drinking in social settings or “pharming” using prescription medications that may be more readily available in the home.
Some teens may feel, because of their youth, that negative consequences of their behavior won’t catch up with them.
Younger siblings might view their older sibling’s drug use as appealing or cool. The availability of substances in the house is another risk factor for substance use among younger kids.
Talking With A Family Member About Addiction
An adult in the family who is not experiencing substance abuse has the opportunity to help their loved one find treatment.
Before approaching this person, educate yourself about addiction and treatment options. Addiction is a mental health condition, not a choice, and recovery is possible with treatment.
Still, the stigma of addiction may cause your loved one to feel shame or be in denial about the extent of the issue, particularly if they are codependent on one or more family members.
Focus on the following when talking with a family member about addiction:
- reassure them that you love them
- let them know that you are committed to helping them restore their well-being
- offer to be with them every step of the way
Family Participation In Addiction Treatment
When your family member is ready to face their drug addiction head on, being supportive of them through their journey, together as a whole unit, can help your loved one feel a lot less alone.
Google detox centers and addiction treatment facilities in your area. Directories are also available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.
Directories can help families who:
- are uninsured or underinsured or facing financial hardship
- plan on using Medicare or Medicaid for addiction care
- need pregnancy-friendly addiction treatment
- require care for adolescent substance abuse
Participating in specific aspects of the recovery process together with your loved one can help strengthen their recovery journey while helping family relationships heal.
Family therapy allows all family members to voice their concerns and share hardships they may be facing but previously felt uncomfortable discussing.
Benefits of attending therapy together as a family include having a therapist guide the conversation and help prevent bias of one family member’s perspective over another’s.
Some substance abuse centers also provide family education. When family members have a better understanding of what causes addiction, they are better able to support their loved one’s recovery.
Find An Addiction Treatment Program Today
You or your loved one can overcome addiction, and DetoxRehabs.net can help. Call us today to get started on the path to recovery.Article Sources
- Cenikor Foundation — The Effects of Addiction on Family and Friends
- Mayo Clinic — Teen drug abuse: help your teen avoid drugs
- National Institutes of Health — The Impact of Substance Use Disorders on Families and Children: From Theory to Practice
- Recovery Research Institute — Guide for Family Members
- SAMHSA — National Helpline