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Effects of Drug Addiction on the Family

Drug and alcohol addiction can create destruction in all areas of one's life, and can greatly impact the family dynamic. This is because addiction not only affects the addicted individual, but also the lives of family members and children. When someone is abusing drugs or alcohol, they don't often stop to question their actions or the consequences of their actions. This can only go on so long before these actions and choices cause conflict and trauma in important and intimate relationships.

When an individual is addicted to drugs or alcohol, much of their time and energy is focused on either obtaining these substances or using them. Whether it be time spent obtaining drugs, doing illegal things to be able to obtain drugs, or actually using drugs. This leaves little time to spend time with one's family or participate in a traditional role that other members of the family are accustomed to or desire. This can leave the family members of the addicted individual feeling a variety of emotions, including resentment, bitterness and even jealousy. This can lead to arguments and relationships will grow apart because the addict is putting drugs and alcohol ahead of their family.

Another aspect of addiction that can cause familial stress is the economic impact that addiction can have. Someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can spend vast quantities of money each day funding their habit. An addict can spend hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars on drugs in just one day or on a binge. Typically, someone who has a hardcore drug or alcohol addiction is not able to function in the workplace and can't hold a job for any significant period of time. So between pouring money into their drug or alcohol addiction, and not being in a position to provide for their family, this leaves other members of the family with the burden of providing for and caring for the rest of the family or for themselves and the addict. This can lead to victims of such bad decision making in bankruptcy, foreclosure, losing their savings etc. which can greatly impact the welfare and well-being of the family unit long-term.

Drug and alcohol addiction can create a great deal of emotional damage for the children involved. An individual who abuses drugs and alcohol may engage in violence, emotional abuse, and even sexual abuse towards children who will carry this abuse with them for the rest of their lives. This can cause children to have long-term emotional and psychological damage which can affect their social stability, their education and their mental health. Children who live in a household such as this will often lose respect for the addicted individual or parent, who they may have once thought was a reliable parent or ally. Households where one or more of the parents is struggling with addiction lack structure and rules, and children who live in such an environment can go off the rails very easily. Children typically crave structure, rules and stability and typically don't do well without them. In a household that is unstable, a child will feel confused and insecure, and may even blame their parent's drug or alcohol use on themselves which will only create further mental and emotional damage.

Addiction can also lead to spousal and partner abuse, both physical and emotional, which can devastate an intimate relationship. For a variety of reasons, intimacy in a relationship can come to a complete stand still as a result of drug or alcohol addiction. This can lead to cheating, or either partner seeking sexual satisfaction outside of the relationship either through pornography, web sex, or even prostitution. The addicted individual may even justify having an affair outside of the relationship, because the new relationship is with someone who understand or can sympathize with the addict. However, this is just manipulation and excuses made on the part of the addicted partner to justify their destructive behavior.

Because someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is often operating in life with a sense of impaired judgment, they will often take part in risky sexual behavior which puts them at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. If the addicted partner is still engaging in sexual activity with their partner or spouse back at home, this then puts them at risk of contracting one or more of these STD's. This could also be the case if the addicted individual is using intravenous drugs, and may be involved in needle sharing which would also put them at risk of contracting blood borne illness which they could then transmit to their partner. It goes without saying, that putting anyone at risk of a disease that could make them very ill or could potentially kill them puts an enormous amount of stress on a family.

Because of the effects that drug and alcohol addiction can have on the family unit, many marriages and partnerships can end in separation and divorce. This not only creates problems for the adults involved, but can create unstable environments for the children as well. Think about it this way; if a parent is so caught up in their drug-seeking and drug-using behaviors, they will have very little if any opportunity to positively interact with their children or anyone else in the family. Ultimately, the addicted parent will disregard the needs and desires of their spouse or partner and their children, and mostly or solely take care of only their needs. This does not provide a stable family unit.

According to one government study, an estimated 50-80% of child abuse and neglect incidents are as a result of the child's parent or parents being involved in drug or alcohol abuse. Additionally, an estimated 75% of domestic violence incidents occur as a result of one or more of the individuals involved having used drugs or alcohol. So, it is clear how drugs and alcohol affects the lives of individuals who either abuse them or who are part of a household of an addicted individual.

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