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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

The Impact of Substance Abuse on the Entire Family

Sep 27, 2022 05:02PM ● By Jassica Mendez

Fighting our inner demons is a personal limbo we all need for growth and development. However, when those demons have power over every cell in our body, it’s a certain kind of hell no one can truly understand but those who are in it. Addictions are special kinds of demons that affect not only those who struggle with them but all the people who care about that person. The impact of substance abuse has a significant effect on the entire family, and every member needs to learn how to cope with it.

Relationships will not be the same

Addiction puts a burden on relationships. It makes no difference if it’s a parent, kid, spouse, or sibling. Each member of the addict’s family goes through their own set of trials. Everyone in the household faces difficult emotions daily.

It’s not uncommon for some relatives to shun the addict altogether. They are afraid of being entangled in the disorder that characterizes addicts. On the other hand, there are others who attempt to manipulate or control the addict into giving up their habit or seeking treatment. Some people choose the middle path and try to disappear into the crowd.

Children of the addict get the tough end

The children of drug addicts have no one to turn to for help. Addict parents create an unstable home life for their kids, with secrets and unexpected switch-ups in parental roles. They have sporadic access to material and emotional aid. Social skills, self-esteem, and physical well-being all suffer for children living under such conditions. These kids are at far greater risk of being abused or assaulted in the future.

Also, when a child loses a parent or both parents to drugs, they may feel abandoned and betrayed. They can become estranged from their surviving parent for a long time and miss out on other crucial parts of development.

Abuse is a sad reality

Addicted persons are more challenging to interact with as their condition worsens. They lash out at those closest to them and display unpredictable behavior, frustration and anger. An individual’s inhibitions are reduced when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When under the influence, people tend to behave erratically. It greatly increases the likelihood of abuse, especially for the ones that are weaker than them. In times when a young child needs a warm hug, it gets the slap of harsh, abusive reality. If an addict is violent, it can scar the whole family in the most devastating ways.

Parents of an addict drown in guilt

Substance abuse makes a distinct set of challenges for parents of children who struggle with it. They worry about their children’s safety and well-being all the time. They may ponder what they did wrong and feel guilty about their child’s decision. However, this drowning in guilt often turns toxic into a road to denial. Parents often can’t cope with the blame they feel towards themselves. So, instead of trying to support their children, they deny them even having a problem. This kind of sweeping feelings under the rug does more harm than good for them and their children. According to the addiction treatment experts at, it should be avoided at all costs.

Siblings often feel neglected

The impact of substance abuse on siblings is particularly devastating. The term ‘invisible victims” is used to describe the siblings of addicts. These sibling relations are fraught with a wide range of feelings, including perplexity, frustration, embarrassment and contempt.

 The issue of addiction for one sibling may easily devour a parent. Their never-ending problems diverge attention from the rest of the kids, and they feel like they’re sitting on the bench. It’s important that parents or other family members help them deal with stress in these difficult times.

It can go different ways

Some kids choose to go in a different direction than their older siblings. Addiction harms their loved ones, and they don’t want to contribute to it. On the other hand, some people experiment with drugs or alcohol because one of their family members did. They may turn to drugs as a means of self-medication or as a means of regaining their parents’ partial attention.

There's a financial impact of substance abuse on the entire family

Maintaining an active drug habit may be expensive. Most addicts will spend every last dime they have on their addiction. They may be having trouble retaining a job, so they turn to the community for help by pleading for handouts of cash, food, and lodging. For those wanting to end addiction will probably need financial assistance in order to afford a rehab center or other kind of program.

 In many cases, families will shoulder the financial burden of supporting a loved one struggling with addiction. Parents often help their adult offspring find calm during trying times by allowing them to reside at home. They most likely pay for legal representation or post bail if legal problems arise. But they must be aware of the delicate balancing act they must perform while trying to aid an addict without really enabling them.   

Final words

Addiction is a disease that poisons the whole family. It’s not only one individual that struggles. The impact of substance abuse on the entire family is not measurable. Challenging times take the souls of each family member piece by piece. There is no unity, and people fall apart. However, there is always a light at the end of a tunnel. No problem is unsolvable, and no disease can survive when there’s love. Love creates unity. It heals individuals, and it heals families. It gives us hope that no matter how dark the sea is, we’ll all see a lighthouse if we love each other and stick together through difficult times.

Jassica Mendez is a full-time copywriter and a member of the marketing department