How Does Drug Addiction Affect Families? Family Roles in Addiction

father drinks beer in front of the family.

Drug addiction is a mental health disease that takes root in the central nervous system, altering the normal functions of the brain.

Living with an addict has its challenges, whether it is a parent of one of the children. Addiction is a family disease, as its influence is felt in different ways by members of the family. In today’s world, there is a lot to be said about the image of the family when a member is battling drug abuse. Other aspects where the family is affected include finances, psychological, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Let’s take a look at the effects of alcoholism on families.

How Addiction Affects Children?

Children of addicts experience so many traumas as they grow into adults. The effect of drug-addicted parents manifests itself in various means. Children are highly impressionable and grow up with feelings of anxiety, loneliness, helplessness, low self-confidence, depression, fear of abandonment, and others these emotions become more complex later in life, leading to the development of certain behavioral disorders.

Maternal substance abuse causes major problems for the fetus. Mothers with drinking problems or drug dependencies endanger the unborn child leading to complications at the birth of health problems that may live with the child for the rest of his or her life.

One of the effects of growing up with an alcoholic father or mother is that the children are likely to live after their parents, emulating the habits of their parents as well as the erratic moods that have become inbuilt.

Children of drug addicts suffer from lack of finances and a substandard lifestyle as parents are more likely to spend all their money on drugs than providing the basic needs of the children, such as food, shelter, quality education, and others. The grades of such children are affected, and other problems may include; domestic violence, divorce, and legal issues. The probability of children becoming school dropouts is also a problem.

How Addiction Affects Spouse?

A long term marital commitment to a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is likely to present with challenges in the long run, especially when only one of both partners has an addiction. Reports state that 20% of divorce rates in the United States are attributed to an alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism and drug abuse among spouses can cause various mishaps, such as domestic violence and other forms of abuse. Wives may suffer from alcoholic husband emotional abuse. The spouse who is free of addiction may have to shoulder all the responsibilities, from financials to domestic.

Codependency is a toxic relationship between spouses where the addict depends on the other entirely for finance, support, and other things while the other spouse is actively attached to the addict. Dealing with codependency is often tough, as this dysfunctional relationship slowly deteriorates as it is often unsustainable.

How Addiction Affects Parents?

Parents are put under an enormous amount of pressure when they have to take care of a child with an addiction problem. A father or mother may begin to question their parenting methods and blame themselves, which in some cases breed conflict within the family. Teenagers are very fragile and can easily be influenced by peers. Understanding how to deal with a drug addict daughter can determine the future of the child.

Teenagers with addictions are potentially more dangerous than adults in the same condition as teens are perceived to be less responsible. A drug addict’s son living home poses more threat as the condition often causes mood swings and suicidal behaviors. The first step on how to deal with a drug addict son is to seek professional help or stage an intervention, and this is critical to ensure that the addiction does not take full grip.

Parents of addicted adults still have a major role to play in the lives of their children. At this point, the development of an addiction in adults may have very little to do with their parent’s capacity as guardians. The parent of an addict may encourage them to seek professional treatment, showing them as much love and support as they can.

family shilouettes at the seaside.

Family Roles in Addiction

Alcoholic family roles vary, and each member of the family may play separate or multiple functions to ensure balance. There are six recognized family roles when a member of the family is an addict.

The Hero

This role is often played by the family overachiever, mostly a sibling who takes up parental roles and strives to achieve perfection.

The Enabler

Most enablers are, in some way, emotionally close to the addict as the enabler takes on the role of a caregiver and justifying the acts of the addict. The problem often stretches when left in the hands of the enabler as they live in denial and tend to make excuses for the addict instead of seeking medical attention.

The Mascot

The effect of addiction can change the energy and communication level in the family. The mascot is often the comic relief that uses comedy as a coping mechanism; this in itself contributes to maintaining the balance in the family.

The Addict

The individual struggling with substance addiction may have great remorse and guilt for all the troubles they may have caused but cannot help craving the substance or going out of their way to secure the substance through any means, this could be problematic for the family in many ways.

The ScapeGoat

As they say, every family has a “black sheep” who is often the center of a misdemeanor. The defiant scapegoat is always in trouble and has a hard time getting along with people. This behavior is usually carried over to adulthood, where the individual may have running with the law.

The Lost child

There is always that one child that is less social, more isolated, and has trouble maintaining a stable relationship with the rest of the family. This character is both physically and emotionally disconnected from the negativities in the home and prefers to spend time on their own.

Family plays a crucial role in the life of a struggling addict, whether it is a teenager, a spouse, or a parent. There is help for families of addicts as long as every member is willing to contribute meaningfully to the process.

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