How Does Addiction Affect Family and Friends?

How Does Addiction Affect Family and Friends?

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Who Can Addiction Affect?

Addiction affect anyone, anywhere, at any point in their lives. While this statement was originally written in reference to an addict, the truth is that everyone close to the addict is also affected. Throughout this article we will discuss how drugs and alcohol addiction affect the families of…

  • Parents (on whole family)
  • Partners
  • Parents (on children)
  • Children

Addicted Parents

It is pretty common knowledge that if a parent has a drug or alcohol addiction then the whole family is affected. It could be compared to being stuck in a swamp and as family members try to help, they too are pulled into the swampy mess that is addiction. The only real way to help is to get those trying to help on solid ground, then they can be of real help.

Addicted Partners

If you are living with a partner who has a drinking or drug abuse problem then the partner who is using may feel torn between wanting to use and not wanting to harm their loved one. They tend to focus on others, giving blame when things go wrong. This can lead to volatile outbursts, depression, and anxiety. This can be a rough time for both partners.

The non-addicted partner may question whether they are good enough, whether they can cause the other person to stop using, and wonder how to protect any children. The non-using partner may take on extra work to try to cover up the mess and try to ‘fix’ the situation. This is rarely effective and is exhausting. The truth is the best thing a partner can do is to find time to take for themselves and relax.

Addicted Parents

An addicted parent not only affects the extended family, but the children. The children of an addict can get bogged down in the drama that is addiction. They tend to adopt a parental role, working for approval, but denying their own needs. The child probably feels insecure, confused, incompetent, and even angry. There are actually several roles a child may take on that include:

  • The family hero – This is often the oldest child who takes on a responsibility of parent and seems in control, but is often insecure.
  • The scapegoat – This child feels blamed when things go wrong and everyone focuses on this person’s fault, but this is just a distraction from the real problem. This person often comes across as rebellious, tough, and troublesome and is at risk of abusing drugs themselves. This person often feels fear, hurt, and loneliness.
  • Lost Child – This child tends to be above the trouble, a dreamer, but they are often hurt, angry, and lonely.
  • Mascot – This child is often the clown, trying to be cute and funny, but they are simply good at hiding hurt, loneliness, and insecurity.

These children need to be able to talk to a professional to know how to handle the situation in a healthy manner. The children of addicts are at a higher risk of becoming addicts themselves so this is highly important.

Addicted Child

When a child becomes addicted to something the whole family suffers. Parents often blame one another and fight over how to handle the situation. The addict may take center stage over other children, causing them to get lost in the chaos. The parents and others need to remember to take time for themselves and gain the support they need for the long term.

Issues with an Addicted Friend or Family Member

Addiction is not a one-way street and when a person compulsively uses their behaviors do not exist in a vacuum. The many negative behaviors of addiction affect loved ones in numerous ways. The unfortunate truth is that most addicted individuals are steeped in denial, so they do not understand the impact of their actions on themselves or others. These come across in many ways.

Loss of Relationships

A hallmark of substance abuse is that of losing friendships and relationships. This is because the addict separates themselves from others to spend more time using the substance of choice. They may lose interest in much loved activities as well. The withdrawal from you may be painful, but is common.

Emotional Turmoil

Family and friends may also encounter emotional responses and negative mindsets as a result of a loved ones addiction. Addiction fosters mistrust as loved ones continually lie about their habits while being secretive, dishonest, and evasive. Depression and anxiety may become prevalent in a family, especially on the children.

Caretaker Roles

This is another unfortunate side effect of drug and substance abuse. Due to the damage and toxic burden on the brain and body, an addict may suffer from a variety of diseases, disorders, and illnesses that force a family member into looking after them. Care taking can be a great burden and can even affect the caretaker’s health mentally and physically.

Negative Roles

In addition to the care taking role, an addiction can alter a family or friendship dynamic. This often comes across as enabling. When someone is enabling an addict, they are actually contributing to the addiction, whether knowingly or not. This must be stopped so that healing may begin.

Financial Issues

Addictions are expensive. A person’s compulsive and frequent use often means the financial situation is strained. This may lead to job loss, theft, and eventually loss of basic things like the home or car, or even freedom as they find themselves in legal trouble. This can cause huge amounts of stress on the partner and children.


Addiction affect has a very dark underbelly of sorts and this is that it often leads to abuse. Addiction affect changes the brain chemistry and this can make a person more prone to aggressive or violent behaviors. These behaviors perpetuate the addiction cycle as the person tries to deal with the outbursts and friends and family try to make sense of the changes.


How Does Addiction Affect Family and Friends?

If you or a loved one has a problem with drugs or alcohol, get help as soon as possible. DARA offers in-patient facilities in several locations with luxury accommodations at affordable prices. Getting your loved one help is key to healing a fractured relationship as they reenter their daily lives. Additionally, family and individual therapy for family members and friends can be highly beneficial.

CLICK HERE to get a Free Confidential Addiction Rehabilitation Assessment. Alternatively, you can click on the live chat icon to chat with someone right now.

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