How Addiction Impacts The Family

Addiction unravels the life of the individual in its grasp. As circumstances in the individual’s life began to spiral downward, those around the addict begin to suffer as well. Addiction is a family disease. This includes not only immediate family members, but also coworkers and friends that are involved in the addict’s life. As addiction takes a toll on the quality of life of the addict, negative consequences of their disease begin to creep into the lives of those around them.

The addiction and its consequences instill an atmosphere of negativity around the addict. Whenever anyone is around them they are often surrounded by an aura of negative emotions. These emotions can include anger, sadness, confusion, and anxiety.

These emotions are related to common situations that impact families during addiction. First, money will often be a factor that impedes upon the family dynamic during the addiction process. As the addiction grows the addict needs more of the substance to achieve the same result. When they can no longer afford to support their addiction, they must lie, cheat, borrow, or manipulate their way to gaining the funds necessary to get the substance they need. Those closest to the addict will typically suffer first, and the hardest. The addict will try to borrow money from friends and family. They may manipulate those close to them to get money from them. This can include concocting untrue and elaborate stories or circumstances that explain why they need money. Those involved in the addict’s life will feel used and hurt when they find out the truth, and may chose to stay away from the addict altogether.

Another common way addiction impacts family and work relations is when the addict starts not showing up – emotionally or physically. The addicted individual will likely not pull his or her own weight at work or in the family. They may show up late or not at all. Even when they do show up their work, be it helping around the home, with the kids or on the job, is sub par. This leaves family members and coworkers resentful because they have to compensate for the addict’s lack of involvement or production.

Being in addiction can also cause inconsistent boundaries at home. The addict may seem to get away with a lot of negative behaviors because they are chalked up to their disease. Meanwhile, other family members are not granted the same leniency, leading them to resent the addict. Or the parents or spouse of the addict may develop a problem with co-dependency. This essentially means they place such a high priority on taking care of the addict that they stop sufficiently taking care of themselves. Those close to the addict may go another route by denying the fact that there is a problem or even enabling their behavior by turning a blind eye or supporting them financially or emotionally.

Because there are many situations that can arise from addiction that will cause negative emotions and circumstances for those involved in the addict’s life, these feelings don’t go away when the addict gets sober  or enters addiction treatment. That is why Harmony Foundation places the utmost importance on the recovery of the family alongside the addict. We believe through education and communication the family can recover. For more information about our family program, click here.