When a person has a drug or alcohol addiction they aren’t the only one who’s impacted. At our Dallas addiction center, we often find that family members are just as affected. They are the ones who are concerned about the problem, wrestle through sleepless nights trying to solve it and pay consequences so their loved one doesn’t have to.
A family can be affected by addiction in countless ways and none of the affects are positive. Below are some of the most common ways that addiction negatively impacts the entire family.
Feelings of Frustration and Hopelessness
There’s nothing harder than seeing a loved one battle an illness. All we want is to help them get better, but there’s only so much we can do when someone else is addicted to drugs or alcohol. This can lead to severe feelings of frustration and hopelessness.
One thing that family members can do in addition to encouraging enrollment at an addiction treatment center is to get help themselves. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are special 12-Step programs for family members that can help relatives handle frustration and understand that they can’t cure their loved one on their own. There are also Dallas addiction centers like Lighthouse Recovery that offer support for loved ones and family counseling sessions that help everyone who’s affected by the addiction.
Constant Stress and Worry for Family Members
One of the worst affects that addiction has on family members is the stress and worry that it causes. Addiction puts a person in very bad situtions. There’s the risk of overdosing, associating with dangerous people and loss of judgement that leads to risky behavior. Some people also resort to committing crimes in an effort to get drugs and alcohol.
The physical effects of substance use disorder also causes insurmountable stress. Family members are often disturbed at how a loved one’s health declines and their appearance worsens with drug and alcohol use. Then there’s the mood swings and rage that can make a loved one seem like an entirely different person.
Family members are painfully aware of the risks their loved one is taking every time they use alcohol or drugs. Pair that with having to take on extra responsibilities and it creates a lot of stress for a prolonged period. Chronic stress is bad for a person’s mental health, but it can actually cause physical problems like high blood pressure.
It’s never a bad idea to have a session with a therapist if stress has become chronic. Like a substance use disorder, the sooner you address how stress is affecting you the better off you’ll be.
Rifts and Divides in the Family
It’s not uncommon to see addiction divide families that were once a strong, solitary unit. Everyone in the family will have a unique experience dealing with the addiction, and it influences how they feel about their ill loved one’s condition. Some family members will want to enable the addict in hopes of keeping them safe. Others will want to cut the addict off entirely or will distance themselves from the family to avoid the problem. Then there are family members that push hard to admit their loved one into an addiction recovery center.
For some families, this is the worst impact of alcohol and drug addiction. It can literally tear families apart, and it can be extremely difficult to mend the broken fences, particularly if the person doesn’t get help at an addiction treatment center and get sober.
Added Responsibilities to Pick Up the Slack
When a person with an SUD can’t fully function in their normal life it’s their family members that are left to pick up the slack and take care of their responsibilities. Parenting a child is a perfect example. Often a family member steps into the role of parent, taking on a huge responsibility for an addicted loved one that has children.
This is actually a blessing in disguise for the child since the effects of an SUD can impact their development, and an addicted parent is often neglectful or even abusive. Studies show that a parent with an SUD is three times more likely to abuse their children. All of these things can increase the child’s risk of having a substance use disorder later in life.
It Upsets the Equilibrium of the Family
A family is a single unit made of up numerous people. When one person has a substance use disorder it can upset the equilibrium of the entire family as others try to adjust in response to the addict’s changing behavior.
Another factor is that the role of family members can change, which upsets the dynamic. For instance, if a parent has an SUD their child may find they have to take on the huge responsibility of being the caregiver.
Repeated Financial Repercussions
A drug or alcohol addiction is very costly in many ways. Feeding the addiction can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month. What’s worse is that eventually the SUD will cause the person to lose their job, leaving them unable to pay bills and buy necessities. If they have a partner, all of the financial responsibilities fall on them.
Many people with a substance use disorder turn to family members for money once they can no longer fund the addiction on their own. They’ll also ask family members for support to get housing, food and other essential items. And if the person gets into legal trouble, the family is left to pay bail, attorneys fees and court fines.
Then there’s the cost of getting help at addiction treatment centers. While providing money to help a loved one survive day-to-day can enable the addiction, paying for treatment is money well-spent. Instead of enabling the addicted family member so that they are able to continue using drugs or alcohol, addiction treatment is an investment that breaks the cycle so that sobriety is possible.
Lighthouse Recovery is a Dallas addiction center that treats the entire family. Our addiction treatment programs are covered under many health insurance plans, minimizing the cost for families. Our admissions team can help you verify your coverage and find ways to limit the out-of-pocket expenses. You can contact us at any time for additional information or assistance.