How Addiction Impacts Families

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Anyone who has been through addiction or seen a loved one go through it knows that it affects more than one person alone. Instead, it has a ripple effect of negativity that can touch and alter the lives of friends and families. The consequences of an addiction on those we love can be tragic but understanding them is crucial for the healing process, so let’s explore what those effects might be.

Addiction jeopardizes relationships

Simply put, an addiction can lead to the breakdown of friendships and family bonds. As the physical dependence on the substance in question rises, other parts of life like interests, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones loses out to the addiction. Even the closest relationships can be strained by the actions caused in part by dependence.

Contact with friends can begin to decrease until it disappears entirely. Even marriages are jeopardized by addiction. Around one-in-two marriages that are influenced by addiction lead to divorce. It doesn’t have to end as such, but the chances are significantly increased.

Addiction leads to a spiral of negativity and abuse

Addiction creates a toxic environment that can negatively impact the mental and emotional health of everyone that it touches. Addiction leads to mistrust, creating secrets that can lead to great anxiety and stress. While the physical dependence affects the mental health of the person addicted, the inability to help and the loss of that trust can lead to issues like chronic stress and depression in friends and family, too.

The link between addiction and abuse is clear, as well. This includes not just emotional and mental abuse, but the physical kind, as well. The risk and rate of physical violence increases exponentially. Furthermore, children of parents who are physically dependent on drugs or alcohol are nearly three times as likely to experience abuse and neglect.

Addiction creates enablers and dependents

The relationship between someone with an addiction and those they are close to can change due to the addiction, as well. For one, the individual in question is likely to become more dependent as the physical and mental symptoms of substance abuse means they’re more prone to illness and to needing help. As such, friends, family and loved ones may have to act like caretakers, creating a burden for them and the guilt of causing that burden for the other.

Others may wish to help, but not have any clear idea of just how to do that. In an effort to create a safe space for a loved one with an addiction, they may end up overlooking abusive or secretive behavior or otherwise enabling them. This only leads to the addiction worsening over time.

Addiction leads to isolation

The breakdown of relationships, the loss of interest in what previously engaged them, and the stress and suffering caused by addiction can all lead to isolation. An addict may isolate them intentionally, whether it’s out of a desire not to trouble their loved ones or simply because they don’t want to face up to them.

The friends and family of an addict face that isolation, too, often feeling trapped with a secret they can’t share or spending more and more time trying to help them to the detriment of their other relationships. Besides negatively affecting their emotional and mental health, this can also create a long-lasting resentment towards their loved one with an addiction.

Addiction creates financial hardship

All addictions are prohibitively expensive. Even though street drugs might be cheaper and easier to access, a physical dependence on them creates so much of a need that people suffering from an addiction will often get themselves heavily in debt or even turn to dangerous or criminal ways of making money to finance their habit.

The financial impacts can hit those around them, as well. One common form of enabling is lending or giving money to a loved one facing an addiction because they are going through potentially dangerous withdrawal or they otherwise threaten negative consequences. It’s also not unheard of that an addict may sell or take out loans on shared assets, or even steal from loved ones, putting them in financial distress.

Addiction can destroy the relationships we have in life and, at the very least, will change them irrevocably. However, it’s never too late to take the steps to repair a life and the bonds that form it. Opus Treatment offers not only opiate addiction  rehabilitation services, but family support that can help rebuild healthy relationships, offering therapy and the chance to let those affected heal.