How Drug and Alcohol Abuse Affects Family and Friends - Sunshine Behavioral Health (2023)

Unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse is very common these days. You've probably heard many reports about the impact of addiction on drug users and communities in general. However, sometimes the direct impact of substance abuse on families can be overlooked.

Unfortunately, the effects of substance abuse in the family can be overwhelming and even debilitating. Addiction does not only affect the person who uses drugs or alcohol. All family members, from spouse, parents, children and siblings are affected in some way. If you are in this situation right now and have just started the journey as a family member or friend of an addict, you may be wondering what the most likely effects are in a family if a family member uses drugs.

How does drug addiction affect the family?

The effects of drug addiction on family members can be significant and profound. It is common for family members to wonder what they did wrong and what they could have done to prevent their loved one from turning to drugs or alcohol. They may blame themselves for their loved one's addiction or begin to resent their loved one for helping the family through this situation. Someone with a substance use disorder may not really understand how addiction affects family and friends. Although addiction is a disease that can change the way a person thinks, behaves, or feels, they often say or do things that hurt family and friends. In some cases, addicts lie to family and friends in an attempt to hide their drug use. They may steal money or drugs to feed their addiction. In some cases, they may even neglect their family responsibilities, including childcare or financial involvement.

financial consequences

Addiction is expensive, both to maintain and to treatget over it. If a person's drug oralcohol consumptionbecomes compulsive and frequent, the addict can quickly drain a family's bank account to pay for the next fix. People with addictions sometimes steal or hoard money to pay for drugs or alcohol and ignore family responsibilities, such as paying bills or shopping. This can have dire consequences for the entire family, including shutting down utilities, forfeiture of the home, or neglectful removal of children from the home.

misuse or neglect

Unfortunately, drugs andAlcohol abuseleads to changes in the brain (neurotransmitter levels) that can alter a person's behavior, personality, and ability to think rationally. A person who would never harm another without using drugs or alcohol may cause physical or emotional harm while under the influence. Some drugs can make a person more aggressive and unable to control their temper, increasing the likelihood of physical abuse toward a spouse, child, friend, or other family member. They may also have trouble controlling what they say, sometimes using abusive or abusive language. The American Society for Addiction Medicine states that intimate partner violence is extremely common in relationships where one or both partners have a substance use disorder. In fact, about half of all IPV cases occur while at least one partner is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In some tragic cases, alcohol and drug abuse can also lead to sexual abuse, especially by children. This can happen, for example, when a drunk parent invites other drug users to his home for an extended period of time and that person abuses the children in the home.

risk of illness

Another unfortunate consequence of addiction is the risk of spreading infections such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. This is especially true if your loved one injects drugs, although in some cases this can also happen if your friend or family member is involved in risky sexual activity.

These diseases can potentially be transmitted betweensexual partners, especially before one partner becomes aware of the other's substance use. They can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy or lactation.

trauma and mental illness

Having a loved one addicted to drugs or alcohol can be extremely distressing. Some family members or friends find that they become anxious or depressed when trying to cope. Others, particularly children and those who have been abused by addicted family members, may develop post-traumatic stress disorder or other trauma-related conditions.

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Substance abuse in families

There are many effects of substance abuse on family relationships. In fact, addiction to alcohol or drugs affects the entire family. People with substance use disorders often begin to separate from the people they love. They often lose interest in activities they used to enjoy and withdraw from family and friends. It does not matter if the person with substance use disorder is a parent,GentleSpouse or sibling, addiction often leads to broken or strained relationships. For spouses, addiction can lead to divorce to protect the non-dependent spouse or children of the marriage.

son of addicted parents

Children of addicted parents often find themselves in the unique situation of having to care for their parents, even when the children are young. Instead of focusing on school and friendships when the child is young, or on their own family and career when they are young,the child is an adult, the child is assigned the role of caregiver. This can have a significant impact on the child's development, especially if the parents overdose.

Many children of addicted parents display symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or depression. This can affect your ability to make and keep friends, trust the adults in your life, and do well in school. Some children also develop behavior problems or are bullied, others drop out of school and/ordeveloping a substance use disorderitself. Studies show that children of addicted parents are more likely to develop an addiction of their own.

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Addiction affects everyone

With the significant number of people addicted to drugs and alcohol, society can no longer ignore the impact of drug abuse on families and society. While substance abuse can clearly tear a family apart, friends, co-workers, and community members are also affected.

It is understandable that you want to protect your loved one and protect them from the negative social, financial, health or legal consequences of their addiction. This can cause you to isolate yourself from outside family or friends, or to neglect your own needs and responsibilities.

This could also cause your relationship to become a codependent relationship. While you may be trying to protect your loved one with good intentions, you may also inadvertently enable an addiction and deprive your loved one of any motivation to stop using drugs or alcohol.

Help a loved one in treatment

The greatest support available during treatment and recovery comes from the family of the drug user. Usually, a family member or friend is the first to notice the symptoms of substance abuse in a loved one and then encourages them to seek treatment. Deciding when to encourage a loved one to seek treatment and finding an appropriate treatment option can also be a stressful time for your family, increasing uncertainty about your loved one's future and recovery.

when it's timefind treatmentFor your friend or family member, family rehab centers offer a variety of treatment options. Just make sure thatask any appropriate questionbefore going into addiction rehab. Upon admission, treatment specialists will help your loved one find the option or combination of options that best suits their personality and needs. Below are some of the treatment options available. When discussing treatment with your loved one, it may be helpful to describe some of the options available.

12 step treatment

Perhaps the best known treatment option isTreatment in 12 steps. These programs have been in use for almost 100 years and can be used for both drug and alcohol addiction. This form of treatment places a strong emphasis on peer support through meetings and support groups with other people recovering from substance abuse. During recovery, clients will go through the 12 steps, which include admitting that they are powerless over their addiction, developing a belief in a higher power, asking a higher power for help, healing those injured by addiction, and helping others who are struggling. against addiction. . Anonymity is also valued.

Treatment without 12 steps

Not everyone is comfortable with a 12-step treatment program, so for those people,12 steps of free treatmentmay be the key to recovery. Often these programs combine scientific, evidence-based approaches with approaches that address an individual's physical and emotional well-being. This may include counseling, physician-supervised detoxification, dual diagnosis treatment, and any combination of the following.
Some people prefer a faith-based approach to treatment. In faith-based treatment, people are given the tools they need to grow in their spiritual beliefs and reconnect with their higher power during the recovery process. Belief-based treatment can be applied to any spiritual belief and to most treatment modalities. Individuals seeking a faith-based approach have the opportunity for spiritual discussion and training with their peers, counseling, and, if desired, guidance from a religious leader, such as a priest, rabbi, deacon, or minister.

dual diagnosis treatment

A significant number of people with substance use disorders also have an underlying mental illness, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), ADHD,post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD), bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Sometimes the symptoms of a mental illness lead to this.Self-medication with drugsor alcohol as a coping mechanism, while other mental illnesses are triggered by substance use. Finally, it can be difficult for some people to determine which came first, but the combination of mental illness and substance abuse makes the symptoms of both worse.

dual diagnosis treatmentit was designed to treat both mental health and addiction. If only addiction is addressed, the likelihood that the person will return to drugs or alcohol to control symptoms of mental illness is high. It is important to treat co-occurring disorders.

holistic treatment

Addiction is not just a physical condition. In fact, substance abuse can devastate the body, mind, and spirit. so take oneholistic treatmentapproach can be effective in helping someone overcome their addiction. A wide range of options can be integrated into holistic rehabilitation, many of which can also be used after initial treatment has been completed. Some holistic options include yoga, meditation,physical fitnessand nutritional counseling, acupuncture, massage, psychotherapy, art or music therapy, biofeedback, neurofeedback, and outdoor experiences.


Finally,SMART recoveryIt is a rehabilitation option that has shown promise in the treatment of addictions. SMART, short for Self-Management and Recovery Training, is a science-based treatment option that encourages people to take an active part in their own treatment and recovery. By teaching people to build and maintain motivation, control impulses, control thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and live balanced lives, people in treatment and recovery are empowered to take control of their situation and participate in the improvement of yours to work for your own quality of life. life. . .

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What to expect during treatment and recovery

As a family member or friend of an addict, you play a key role in the healing and recovery process. However, the treatment or recovery process can be difficult for you from time to time. The effects of your loved one's addiction can be confusing or overwhelming at times, but it can help to know what to expect during this time. Some things your loved one may do during treatment or recovery that may surprise or worry you include:

  • Show strong emotions:Rehabilitation can be a very emotional time for your loved one. It can evoke emotions or traumas that he or she suppressed with alcohol or drugs. It could also mean that your loved one is losing access to friends and the lifestyle they were attached to. He or she may not have many appropriate and healthy coping strategies for coping with stress, anxiety, anger, depression, or other strong emotions that allow your loved one to express her feelings in a way that supports him or her. scare. If you feel unsafe or your loved one is acting out, it's important to seek help and make sure you're in a safe environment.
  • Change one vise for another:People with drug or alcohol addiction often have an underlying tendency toward addictive behaviors. Sometimes this means that when they stop using drugs or alcohol, they turn to other addictive behaviors, such as smoking, playing video games, drinking coffee, or shopping as a substitute. As long as the behaviors are not harmful, it may be necessary to allow them to engage in these replacement behaviors for a while to help them get off the drug. Your loved one's addiction treatment team will help you learn to cope in moderation and in a healthy way.
  • Waitsorry:There is a good chance that your loved one will hurt you or others during their addiction. During treatment, you will seek counseling and work to improve relationships. They may expect you to be ready to forgive them right away. However, you also have the right to express your feelings about the situation and you have the right to take time to heal. Family therapy can be a sure way for you and your loved one to take steps to improve your relationship.
  • repetitions:Unfortunately, many people who abuse drugs or alcohol experience at least one relapse during the recovery process. This does not mean that treatment has failed or that your loved one will not recover. It's just one bump on the winding road to full recovery. You can't control whether or not your loved one relapses, so try not to blame yourself. This means that your loved one will need more time in rehab to process the problem.

transition options

The effects of a family member or friend with a substance use disorder do not stop once the person is in treatment. After treatment, your loved one will be back in your life. One of the most important transition steps is finding a suitable place to live that is safe for the person in recovery and the rest of the family. During this time you will also continue your healing, but some things in your family can change forever.

Intermediate house or sober shared floor

Sometimes people in early recovery need a little more support, supervision, or stability than is available at home. This means they are placed in a halfway house or shared sober apartment to help them through the early recovery process. When this is safe, your loved one will return home.

back home

In some cases, a person can go directly home from rehab. The treatment team will help you and your loved one develop appropriate guidelines and limits for your home to ensure that you and your family members are safe and that your loved one has the support they need to recover. using aExample of addiction support contractIt can help you develop a contract with your loved ones that sets clear limits on what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable when your loved one returns home.

Even if your loved one is in recovery, their daily life will likely still be affected. You will probably need to make some long-term changes to keep your family member or friend safe. This could mean changing the way you celebrate special occasions, especially when alcohol plays a central role in those celebrations. It may also mean hosting family gatherings where you can ensure a sober environment, especially during early recovery.

Self sufficiency for family and friends.

Self-care is important not only for your recovering loved one, but also for you. Chances are your life has been turned upside down in the last few months or years and you may not have had the chance to take care of your own physical and mental health. Self-care is also important to make sure you choose healthy ways to deal with the stress of addiction and your loved one's recovery. Some ideas to promote your own health and wellness include:

  • prepare healthy meals
  • Keep a Gratitude Journal
  • Practice tai chi, yoga, deep breathing, meditation, or guided relaxation
  • Take a walk in the woods or in a park
  • Spend 30 minutes a day exercising
  • Learn a new hobby or spend time doing a hobby you already enjoy.
  • Develop a good sleep routine and try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night.
  • Start the day with a cup of coffee or tea while reading or sunbathing
  • Let your doctor, dentist and ophthalmologist examine you
  • Get a haircut, a massage, a pedicure or a manicure.
  • Do something on your wish list
  • Diary, scrapbook or write in your planner
  • Join a book club
  • start a new sport
  • practise martial arts
  • Reserve lunch, a cup of coffee, or catch a movie with your best friend

Support groups for family and friends.

One of the best forms of self-care you can do during this time is to find a support group for family members or friends of addicts. ThisSupport groupsIt can be helpful to connect you with other people who have been exactly where you are now. This can be incredibly helpful in combating feelings of isolation and despair. Others in the support group have made this journey and been through all the ups and downs. There are several options for support groups. If you need help finding one, a family rehab clinic can help you find appropriate support groups in your area. Some examples of groups that other friends and family of addicts have found helpful include:

under the stairs

Alateen is part of Alcoholics Anonymous and serves adolescents who have a loved one with alcoholism.

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adult children of alcoholics

This 12-step program supports adults who grew up with alcoholic parents or who experienced their parents' alcoholism as adults.

anonymous families

FA is a 12 step group for any adult who has a friend or family member with any form of substance abuse or addiction.

Recovery of Anonymous Couples

This group is similar to Anonymous Families but is specifically for spouses and partners where one or both of them have some type of drug addiction.

Parents of Dependents (PALS)

For parents who have a minor or adult child with an addiction, PALS offers support in person and online.

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Get help and find hope

Your family has likely gone through many changes during this time. He may be worried about the future, angry about his situation, worried about his loved one, or hoping that his loved one can recover and heal. It is important to understand that all of these feelings are normal. Despite the difficulties your loved one's addiction may have brought, addiction is treatable. If you suspect that your friend, spouse, parent, child, or sibling is addicted to drugs or alcohol,Contact Us. We are happy to support him in healing him as a family. We hope this guide has helped you learn more about what to expect and navigate through this stressful and confusing time. If you suspect that his family or friends are addicted to drugs or alcohol,We can help. As a family treatment center, we have the experience andresourcesnecessary to help your entire family find the path to healing.

Medical Disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people struggling with substance abuse, addiction, mental disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that explores health, treatment, and recovery.

Material we post on our website is reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The material is not a substitute for diagnosis, treatment, or qualified medical advice. It should not be used to replace the advice of your GP or other healthcare professional.

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