Millions of people battle substance abuse each year but generally, it is seen as a personal struggle of the drug user to overcome their dependence on a harmful substance. Substance abuse can include the usage of recreational drugs, smoking, and alcohol consumption. People may start using recreational drugs for fun but eventually, find it difficult to let go of the desire to feel the sense of pleasure associated with a substance. The addicts rarely realize the harmful impacts of a drug, alcohol, or cigarette on their physical and psychological health or their families.
Substance abuse damages the abuser’s relationship with their family and friends and the situation that emerges is unhealthy for everyone involved, including parents, spouses, and children. This impact may take the form of emotional trauma, physical stress, or financial loss for the family. Addict’s behavior adversely transforms the lives of those around them and this article will shed light on the negative aspects of drug abuse on families.
Loss of trust
The immediate impact of drug abuse on a family is the loss of trust between the abuser and their loved ones. It can be very difficult for an abuser’s parents, spouse, siblings, and even children to understand what their family member is going through. There may be a lot of unanswered questions. The family members of an abuser may find it hard to empathize and trust them. Lack of empathy might strain their relationship and impede attempts to initiate a recovery process.
On the other hand, the individual on drugs experiences a range of negative emotions and may lie, manipulate, or physically abuse their family members. As a result, feelings of frustration might overtake empathy for the abuser, further damaging the relationship. The ideal solution is to invest some time exploring available programs for rehabilitation before there is a complete communication breakdown.
Substance abusers find it difficult to keep their jobs. Erratic behavior and lack of focus lead to job uncertainty which implies there always will be financial instability. In such a circumstance, the financial responsibility shifts to the family, and the addict also begin to rely on their family to support his drug addiction. If the addict cannot get money from his family, they might deceive others for money to pay for their drugs.
It can be even more stressful if the addict is the primary earner for the family. Financial instability also slows down the chances of recovery for an addict. It is not always feasible for a family to pay for addiction treatment. There are other expenses like food, mortgage, utilities, medical expenses of others, etc. Even savings vanish after some time and create a difficult situation for the family.
Unhealthy environment for children
Parents who are addicts take no responsibility for their own lives, let alone their children’s. Deprivation of physical, emotional, and financial security takes a high toll, and children may end up fending for themselves, further putting the child at risk. Children who grow up in homes where a family member is a drug user may suffer from psychological trauma and stress. Forced to live with parents struggling with substance abuse or alcoholism, children have a very difficult childhood and adulthood.
There is a high chance that the addict parent might be emotionally, verbally, physically, or even sexually abusive to the child, thus harming their psychological and physical well-being. Some might even follow in their parent’s footsteps and start taking drugs to escape their situation. These instances not only take away the innocence of childhood, but children from broken homes find it difficult to maintain relationships as adults.
Different forms of abuse
Living with an addict can be psychologically challenging. It can take the form of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse and financial and emotional manipulation. The addict is going through a range of emotions and might become abusive if their needs are not met.
Children who live with addicted parents are often the target of abuse, which can traumatize them, leading to a negative psychological and physical sense of being. Addict parents become dismissive of their duties as a parent and might blame their condition on their children or spouse. As a result, the child’s developmental needs remain unmet, and they cannot feel emotional attachment for a detached parent hooked on drugs. Emotional distress and violence are two strong possible elements in this relationship. Economic and legal difficulties may further strain the drug addict’s relationship with their family.
Addicts also tend to be abusive towards their spouses. Especially if the spouse is weak and submissive, they may suffer from physical and sexual abuse. Saying no to the demands of an addicted partner may result in violent reactions.
Living with an addict is a challenging situation, and it can lead to a tense and stressful environment for everyone inside the house. It is painful to see a family member struggle with addiction and feel helpless, causing psychological stress. Families begin to feel guilt which destroys their self-esteem. Specifically, children who grow up with addicted parents find it difficult to cope with stressors at home, whether financial instability or emotional manipulation of an addict.
The environment at home may become dysfunctional and unhealthy even for those not directly affected by the addict’s behavior. Furthermore, tolerating an addict’s toxic behaviors out of pity can be emotionally exhausting.
Fear and Uncertainty
Family members of the drug user might fight with feelings of fear and frustration. Children begin to feel uncertain about their future and their parents’ health. Family members of an addict, after some time, begin to feel afraid and unclear of what to do and might disassociate from the addict. It might lead to a stressful and tense environment at home, further imposing challenges for the addict’s recovery.
Living with a drug user can be very emotionally, financially, and physically challenging. As much as family members want to help their loved ones, they might feel helpless and overwhelmed. The first step towards recovery is, perhaps, coming to terms with the negative impacts of living with an addict and then realizing that there are potential solutions to help overcome this situation. If a drug addict asks, guide them to help them understand how drugs work without judging or accusing them and then point them in the direction of rehab. A detox and rehabilitation center can help addicts recover and restore their balance.
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