4 Startling Ways Addiction Can Hurt Your Family

There is no doubt that addiction has powerful consequences. Most of the time that you think about the side effects of drug and alcohol addiction, you may not be thinking about the dire consequences that affect a family as an entire unit, but they are real and powerful. When you take a wider look at the results of alcohol and drug addiction, it’s clear that the problem is not an individual one: everyone around the addict is impacted. Here are a few of the ways that addiction can harm your family.

1. Children miss out on the magic of growing up

When children grow up in a home with an addict, they try to make sense of chaos. They are often confused and scared by things they witness and feel forced to grow up too fast. In fact, many children who witness their parents and older siblings become addicts go on to become addicted to substances as well.

2. Family members stop trusting addicts

In many cases, addicts will lie or steal to gather money to buy drugs. In fact, addiction can change a beloved family member to the point that he or she is no longer recognizable. They may do terrible things they would never even think to do if they were not using drugs or alcohol that cause cloudy judgment. Eventually, family members may realize that they simply cannot rely on an addict to behave in a reasonable manner.

3. Family members are forced to play certain roles

Psychologists and social workers frequently provide assistance to family members of those struggling with addiction. For instance, some children may feel the need to take on the role of a responsible parent, especially if they must care for younger siblings. The effect is intense insecurity and feelings of incompetence. In other cases, a child feels as if he or she is to blame for a loved one's addiction. He or she becomes a scapegoat for the problems.

4. Families facing addiction do not feel safe

Emotional, psychological, and physical factors may keep family members from feeling safe to be themselves. They do not share opinions out of fear of triggering an episode in the addict. As a result, many individuals tend to withdraw from and find security elsewhere. Instead of bringing up valid feelings, they may avoid sharing any genuine thoughts at all. Everybody in the family is on high alert, prepared to run for cover.

Addiction can tear families apart, but families can also be brought together when they face addiction. Treatment centers and social workers with an online master’s in social work often aid families that have been pulled apart by substance abuse and addiction. Oftentimes, this damage can be repaired if everybody works together.

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