How Addiction Affects Family and Friends

Written by Chloe Nicosia

How Addiction Affects Family and Friends – The Collateral Damage of Substance Abuse

In 2013, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimated the number of people who abused drugs in the last month at 9.4 percent of the population. Many of these people had full-blown addictions that more often than not ruined their lives. However, substance abuse’s negative effects are not just felt by the person who abuses the substance, but also by those who care about the addict. How addiction affects family and friends stretches further than just surface problems.  The emotional damage and stress that substance abuse can cause the people who care about the addict cannot be ignored. It is only through a collaborative effort that the addict can reclaim their lives and repair the damage that the addiction caused.

Financial Problems

One of the ways of how addiction affects family and friends is the financial problems it can cause. Sustaining an addiction is not cheap. In a family setting, an addict will often prioritize getting their fix over other important bills such as rent or food, putting not only the addict but the addict’s family in a stressful situation.

Since addiction causes a person’s work performance to diminish, it is common for the addict to lose their source of income, putting great financial strain on other members of the family. It can force a spouse or even a child to have to find extra work to try and help the family survive.

Furthermore, one of the others ways of how addiction affects family and friends is through stealing and borrowing money. With both stealing and borrowing money, trust is usually lost. Borrowed money is rarely returned.

Mental and Physical Abuse

Addiction can drastically alter a person’s behavior. The effect of drug addiction on a family can be serious when there is mental or physical abuse involved. A spouse may be an alcoholic causing them to become verbally and physically abusive. Such situations can destroy relationships and make the person being abused feel helpless and victimized.

Adopted Roles

People who are close to the addict naturally want to help the addict or to ignore the problem altogether. These responses usually cause people to take on various roles that hinder the rehabilitation process. Some of the roles that are common in addiction include the “hero”, the “mascot”, the “enabler or caretaker” and the “scape goat”. These roles come from a place of shame, anger, guilt, fear and inadequacy. For example, the enabler in an addiction situation is a person who tries to please everyone in the family, making excuses for the addict and allowing the behavior to continue without any real consequence.

How Families Can Help Addicts

The effect of drug addiction on the family can cause some family units to fracture, but it is a chance for the family to become even closer if they can work through the issues. How families can help addicts is to first make them aware of their addiction and how it has negatively affected other people. Through such an intervention, the addict can suddenly become aware of how change is necessary.

How addiction affects family and friends is not something that has to be permanent. Once the addict begins treatment, time can be made for friends and family to become involved with the process. This can help to mend strained relationships as well as create the kind of support the addict will need going forward with their recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.