How Addiction Affects Families

Although many view battling addiction as a personal experience, that’s not the full story. It’s true that addiction can have devastating effects on the user, but many forget about the other people involved – the family. Spouses, children, and parents who witness a family member struggling with addiction experience emotional trauma, as well as financial, legal, medical, and other damages.

A peaceful home can be divided by the strain caused by drug and alcohol abuse. Trust begins to erode. This article is going to explore how addiction affects the family and provide solutions for re-establishing family connections.

How Addiction Impacts Children

Psychology Today reports that one in five children grow up in a home where a parent abuses drugs or alcohol. Witnessing the trauma of a parent suffering from addiction at a young age can have long-term effects. Children growing up in homes with addicts are more likely to develop substance use disorders later in life.

Early exposure to a home divided by drug use can cause a child to feel emotionally and physically neglected and unsafe. As a result, they can become more mentally and emotionally unstable. In extreme cases, children can be removed from the home and placed in foster care.

How Teenage Addiction Affects the Family

The CDC reports that underage drinkers have more drinks per drinking occasion than adults. Marijuana use is more common in teens than cigarettes and other drug use. Many teens are still impressionable and struggle to form their identity. Teens who have experienced parental substance abuse are more likely to abuse substances. Teens that become overwhelmed by addictive substances and strained relationships at home often choose to run away from home. Once a teen leaves home, they are exposed to sexual, economic, and emotional exploitation.

College Student Addiction and the Family

Teens who abuse substances are more likely to continue their substance use into their college years. Once a teen has been exposed to drugs, they often form tolerance and stronger addiction in their college years. They’re also exposed to new addictive substances. Signs of substance abuse in college students include:


  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Low Inhibition
  • Inability to hand college commitments

Re-Establishing Family Connections

Substance abuse disorders can destroy a family. The good news is, there are a lot of available resources to help with substance abuse within a family. Treatment providers have professionals on staff that can guide family members in getting the type of treatment they need. Many facilities allow sober relatives to visit family members in rehab to receive counseling and heal wounded relationships. If you have a family member that’s suffering from substance abuse, contact a local treatment facility and ask for help today.

If you would like more information on our New Telehealth Outpatient Services Please Contact our Admissions Department at 901-521-1131.

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