Addiction affects every member of the immediate family in some way. The roles of the parent, child, and other individuals all face disruption in the wake of addiction. If you or someone in your family is struggling, here are six ways that addiction might affect your family unit.
Substance abuse negatively impacts how a parent raises a child. Severe addictions can drive the parent and other family members’ attention away from the child. Older children might undergo “parentification” in which they’re taking on responsibilities inappropriate for their age. There is a documented connection between substance abuse and child neglect, which is the last thing that any parent wants.
Whether it is alcohol, drugs, or smoking, addiction can be costly. The money that a family member spends on a bad habit may not be there when it is time to pay a household bill. Financial hardships lead to increased stress, worsening the conditions that precipitate the addiction.
Living at home with a parent who has an addiction can impact the child’s future. According to American Addiction Centers, 25% of children grow up in homes where parents abuse drugs or alcohol.
When kids witness harmful behaviors that parents display from substance abuse, they learn to behave the same way. As these kids grow up, they have a higher chance of developing a substance abuse problem.
Addiction during pregnancy negatively impacts the fetus. An expectant mother who can’t handle the stress of being pregnant while raising a family may resort to drug or alcohol abuse. Family members who live with the pregnant woman may worry about her and the baby.
Substance abuse can rip a family apart if it spirals out of control. It can lead to arguments, unfair treatment, anger, resentment, and a change in priorities. Parent-child relationships suffer, and so does the trust in each other.
As if peer pressure was not enough, teens with parents who abuse drugs or alcohol sometimes have to take on the role of the parent. These adolescents feel the need to care for themselves in addition to caring for the parent.
Alcohol and drug addiction are common in teens who grow up in abusive homes. Living with a parent who drinks or uses drugs can make teens question their self-worth, leading to low self-esteem. Abusing substances becomes a coping mechanism.
When a spouse has an addiction, the marriage becomes more challenging. The opposite spouse can develop feelings of inadequacy or abandonment.
Overcoming an addiction
For any addiction, rehabilitation is the best way to overcome it. Most programs offer counseling and support groups where people with addictions can learn from each other. A twelve-step program is an example of alcohol rehab.
Rehabilitation is to treat the whole family, not just the afflicted person. All family members should attend and work on therapy together.
Addiction affects the entire family, not just the individual. Parental and spousal roles change, children act out, and financial stability decreases. The family that experiences these adversities together can also heal together.