It’s no secret that addiction tears into people’s lives, leaving them physically and mentally ill, and at times fighting for their lives in an emergency room. Yet beyond the impact of drugs on the individual struggling with the addiction, every case of addiction is bound to affect other people, including friends, strangers, and most significantly: family.
Anyone who knows an addict or has personally battled with addiction understands that a chemical or emotional dependency on a drug changes a person and brings them into a state of mind they would normally never reach. They begin to think and do things most people would never do due to the impact of drugs – including hurt those they love, lie to those they care about, and break the trust and friendship of those whom they have given years of their life to.
Beyond the household and the inner circle, impact of drugs affects society in general. Addiction and drug use plays a role in a great number of tragedies, from traffic accidents to domestic violence. While impact of drugs itself does not cause someone to get violent, they may take greater risks and cross certain legal boundaries to get to the next high. In other cases, addiction may amplify other mental health problems, or make an already violent person more prone to lashing out against others. Regardless of how addiction manifests itself, it causes problems not only for the addict, but for everyone around them.
Yet those who bear the greatest brunt of the trouble from the impact of drugs are those closest to the person: their family. If you’re in a family struggling with addiction, know that you are not alone. Help is out there, and there are better days ahead.
How A Child With Addiction Affects The Family
Acknowledging your own child’s addiction can be a difficult thing – as can be convincing them that their problem is one that needs to be addressed, for their own good. In families with multiple children, it can create an upset in the balance of things. A previously neglected child might turn to drugs due to outside factors, including perhaps peer pressure or emotional pain, and the family’s attention is focused on supporting them through recovery, or convincing them to get help.
Parents must divide their attention between all their children in such a way that each child grows up healthy and emotionally stable. With addiction in the picture, this becomes a near-impossible challenge. Aside from feelings of worry and blame – such as one child blaming the family for their sibling’s problems, or blaming their sibling for their bad choices, out of frustration – parents will often feel like failures, either placing blame upon themselves or looking desperately for other factors.
Negatively focused thinking from the impact of drugs will tear a family apart. When a teen reveals an addiction, it’s important to pull together and think as a family unit – not as individuals undermining one another.
If you recognize that the impact of drugs is clouding your loved one’s ability to think straight – regardless of whether you’re a parent, sibling, uncle or aunt – consider seeking a councilor or therapist.
How The Impact Of Drugs On A Parent Affects The Family
When the impact of drugs affects a parent, children are often left to fend for themselves, or have to rely upon a single parent, who may be overwhelmed with supporting their partner on top of supporting a family. Sometimes, children will seek to distance themselves from their family unit and “grow up faster”, quickly taking on certain characteristics to isolate themselves from others or create as many bonds as possible to avoid a feeling of loneliness and run away from inner insecurities and anxieties.
It is important, again, to pull together as a family. The impact of drugs will force each member to go their individual path – only by pulling together and supporting one another can the family stay whole and provide support in their parent’s recovery.
The Impact Of Drugs Across Generations
Addiction in the family is a risk factor for more addiction, but the exact reason why is debatable. In some cases, it might be the fact that being exposed to addiction at a young age can leave some people susceptible to it later in life. For others, the emotional trauma of an addicted family member might contribute to their troubled coping mechanism.
For others, it might be a little bit of column A, and a little bit of column B. In any case, solving the impact of drugs is more than just helping one loved one – it’s about helping an entire family, and generations to come.
When families think of getting their loved one some help, the first thing that springs to mind is an intervention. While these can be useful to help someone in denial understand the extent of their disease and have them sign into rehab, it’s best to first just talk things out, and present rehab as an option (or a necessity, if the situation is dire).
If your loved one has become completely unresponsive and irrational, there are legal tools to help you get them some help for the safety of the family. But ultimately, recovery only works if the addict wants to get clean – and acknowledges that they have a problem. Sober living after recovery is a great option in those cases.
When talking alone doesn’t do the trick, interventions can help.
Support Systems And Family Therapy
Regardless of what treatment plan you or your loved one chooses, addiction is a long-term fight. Temptations exist in every recovering addict’s head, triggered by memories, sounds, smells, sights. Over time, they fade – but for a while, they can be powerful, and difficult to resist in times of stress and negativity.
It’s important to come together and form a strong support system. Families make for ideal support systems, because that is their natural function. Parents support one another, they support their children, and their children help them live on. Through trust, love and commitment, a family can stay together and continue to beat addiction together.
But if secrecy, anger, and pettiness seep into the cracks between families and destroy their relationships, then the support disappears, and loneliness grows – even in cohabitation. Keep your bonds strong, nourish the family, and resolve conflict with rational conversation and compromise – not through anger, fear, and fighting.
Family therapy may be the ideal way to rebuild trust and relearn crucial communication skills while in recovery. If you find that your family cannot stop fighting, and that the negative atmosphere is tearing you all apart, then it’s important to consult a professional and see if there’s any way to come together.
Some families communicate uniquely – if that involves friendly banter and teasing, then a little “fighting” or “bad language” is nothing to worry about. What truly matters is what’s between the lines – the feelings, worries and bonds between parents and their children, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands.
A family is a complicated thing, and addiction can be like an acid-coated wrench thrown indelicately into the mechanism. Working out the kinks afterwards can take months and years, but it’s critical to do so for both the survival of the family, and the continued sobriety of your loved one.