Substance abuse and addiction negatively impact both the user and the user’s family. If ignored, addiction will become the user’s priority and cause irreparable to both the user’s health and their family.
In this article, you will learn how substance abuse affects the family as well as how to find helpful support in your area.
How Substance Abuse Affects the Family
You are probably thinking your drug or alcohol abuse only affects you. You have probably even said this exact statement while arguing with a friend or family member.
You are not alone. Almost every addict on this planet has tried to convince themselves and the ones they love that their drug use only affects them. This is just not true, however.
Substance abuse affects every person in your life.
Below are some of the ways your substance abuse can affect your family.
Families Experience Trauma
There is plenty of research that proves substance abuse creates trauma for family members, especially for children of addicts. Put yourself in their shoes. How do you think they feel every time you get too high and put yourself in dangerous situations?
Overdoses, driving while drinking or drugging, meeting your dealer in an area where killings happen daily, and not knowing where you are because you are on a bender for days are a few reasons your family is living in a constant state of fear.
This level of fear is unhealthy and mentally, it can create stress. High levels of stress can lead to disorders where your family member may experience nightmares, panic attacks, and flashbacks. These are symptoms of trying to cope with a trauma.
Family members of those abusing substances fight and they fight often. What do they fight about? You! One member gets mad at another for giving you money to buy your drugs. Another gets mad because you can stay in their home for free and without contributing to the upkeep of the home.
Some family members are angry because you stood them up once again, stole from them, brought your drug friends to their home, and because you lie all the time.
Your unhealthy enabler is in denial and lives both your life and their life, taking care of all your responsibilities. This angers your perfect sibling who can’t understand the codependency that exists. One person will isolate because they are tired of you being the topic of every conversation, while another will try to calm everyone down with humor.
But no one is laughing.
And because you are never home, or when you are home you hide in your room, they take out their anger for you on each other.
Families Have Financial Worries
If you have been abusing substances for a long time, it’s not likely you still have a job that can help you keep up with your addiction. This means you are rotating among family members, asking each one for money.
Because most addicts are super smart, you know how to get family members to enable you, at the right time of day, and using the right excuse in order to get them to support you financially.
Not too many addicts can maintain their addiction without financial help, your family is in a constant state of worry about their finances. They do not want to give you money. You know this yet your addiction pushes you to continue asking them for more.
Over time, between helping you pay for your drugs, your legal problems, and your lifestyle habits, their finances suffer.
Families Are Abused
Abusing drugs or alcohol or both have changed the way your brain works. Specifically, it has changed how you make decisions, and how you interact with others. You may not even realize your brain has changed but your family has noticed.
Your brain is focused on one thing, getting and staying high. When it notices the drugs are beginning to leave your system, it kicks into “go get more” mode. When in this mode, anything that gets in between you and your drug becomes a target for abuse.
Verbal, physical, emotional, psychological and even sexual abuses have taken place between family members and an addict on a mission. Maybe one or more of these have happened in your life. You say things you don’t mean; you behave in a way that is not your character, and you abuse someone you love.
Families Suffer Health Problems
Physical health can be affected by a family member’s addiction and substance abuse. The worry, stress, abuse, and fears cause the body to become ill. When family members are coping with these stressors properly, their immune system will suffer.
Illnesses like mental health disorders, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, hormone imbalances and the inability to fight off infections can happen.
There have been numerous studies providing evidence of the damage these can do to a person’s health.
Eventually, the relationships you have with family members will be lost if you continue to abuse substances. You may have even lost a friend or family member due to your addiction.
When someone you care for feels like you love the drug more than them, they don’t know how to cope with that. And instead of trying to get you to choose them over the drug, they stop coming around. They don’t know how to handle being the second choice for a substance.
It becomes easier for them to stay away than feeling the pain of being rejected by you.
You Can Help Your Family
Now that you know how substance abuse affects the family, you know just how important it is to make changes sooner than later.
You have a choice that only you can make. You can choose to continue in the cycle of addiction. Or, you can choose to do what it takes to get sober and stay in recovery. You can live without drugs. You have done it successfully before you were introduced to substances.
Get into a medical detox facility. Go to long-term inpatient treatment. Transition to sober living. Go home the person that will make your family fear less and love more.
You can prove to your family that you are strong enough to beat this addiction. With the right help, you can heal your brain and body, learn how to prevent relapse, and start fresh. In sober living, you can practice implementing sober tools so you can be fully prepared when you return home to the healthy support of your family.