No one knows better the impact addiction has on families than those with one or more people in a household suffering from alcoholism or substance abuse. Sometimes both parents are addicts and other times it’s a parent and a teen or adolescent still living in the home. Regardless of which family member has the addiction, the effects are felt by everyone involved and the issue can take quite an emotional and mental toll because of the stress caused by ongoing concerns for the addict’s health and wellbeing. In addition, here are some other ways addiction can have a negative impact on families.
Driving People Apart
When people are using drugs or alcohol, they generally don’t want to spend too much time hanging with close friends and family members because they’re ashamed of their appearance or behavior. This social awkwardness and humiliation can cause families to drift apart, with the addict sacrificing crucial relationships to continue their habit. Due to the importance of the family dynamics, many California alcohol treatment centers suggest that interventions be performed in the presence of the addict’s closest friends and family members to help encourage them to make a commitment to get clean.
Stealing Precious Memories
Of course, during those hours and days when addicts are out roaming the streets and doing whatever they can to stay away from their family, they’re losing out on priceless memories that they would’ve otherwise made if they had been present at home. For parents, this can mean missing the opportunity to play an active role in the upbringing of their child. Likewise, adolescent addicts often miss out on a normal social life and are more likely to give up on their long-term ambitions for the future.
Ruining Role Models
Finally, perhaps the most devastating effect that addiction has on the family unit is the way it tears role models away from the younger generation. Any addicts that make it a point to stay involved in their children’s lives throughout their battle with addiction are still only a shell of the parent they could be if they were leading a sober and responsible lifestyle. Every family needs leadership and guidance, but addiction can drive a wedge between relatives, parents, and children. Aside from affecting a parent’s ability to positively influence their children, addiction also typically takes money away from the family to support the habit.
The Importance of Timely Intervention
There are two schools of thought pertaining to how and when family members should intervene in the life of a struggling addict. Some people believe that the addicts need to reach “rock bottom” so they can realize for themselves that they’d rather have a different kind of lifestyle. However, this archaic way of thinking can wind up being an extremely dangerous approach, because for many addicts, “hitting rock bottom” can be mean an overdose. Thus, it’s imperative that friends and family band together to step in before it’s too late for the addict get the help they so desperately need.