Addiction is a disease that impacts the functioning of a person’s brain. While addiction can impact every aspect of an individual’s life, how the disease can affect their family is sometimes overlooked. Addiction affects not just those suffering from the disease, but also their family, friends, and loved ones.
There can be many effects of addiction on a family. Often those who are faced with a loved one who is experiencing addiction will have to deal with many unpleasant emotions. These emotions and mindsets are often in direct relation to substance abuse. Their loved one may lash out, remain secretive, or even become aggressive. A family member may not know where to turn or how to handle these types of situations. This can lead to the family member blaming themselves, becoming angry with themselves, or even experiencing anxiety and depression as a result.
Emotional turmoil is often more heavily present when there are children involved in the situation. This is due to children and teenagers being very in tune with their surroundings and going through significant life changes independently. They may pick up on the turmoil affecting their family unit and become stressed, aggressive, or confused. This can lead to difficulty for them maintaining friendships, completing schoolwork, and engaging in their hobbies.
Family members who are experiencing someone suffering from addiction within their family unit often, unfortunately, will engage in enabling behavior. Enabling behavior can sometimes be challenging to spot, and family members may even do it without knowing. One of the most common ways that family members engage in enabling behavior is by giving their loved one who is experiencing addiction money. They may continue to provide their loved one money each time they ask. Another form of enabling behavior is not holding your loved one accountable for their actions. This can sometimes be difficult to do, but it is essential to do. For instance, your loved one may be continuously late showing up to their grandmother’s house with you. You may keep lying to friends and family about when your loved one is around and then never discuss the situation with your loved one. It is essential to have a conversation with your loved one and present facts on how their actions can be damaging to others.
Addiction can also affect the family unit by damaging their finances; the brain’s constant preoccupation with finding more drugs or alcohol to satisfy the addiction results in compulsive behavior, leading to increased spending. Your family may or may not offer you money, out of fear that you may be spending it to feed your addiction. Addiction can cause an individual to steal money and possessions from family members to obtain more drugs or alcohol. They may continue to steal, sell their belongings, or borrow money, leading to their family members becoming financially unstable.
Loss of a Relationship
When suffering from addiction, it can become increasingly difficult to maintain an active role in a relationship. Many negative emotions may be displayed by this individual, which could be seated in denial, which could strain their relationship with a friend or spouse. Those who are often suffering will begin distancing themselves from those they are closest to and lose interest in activities that once brought them joy. They may appear more withdrawn into themselves, lie, or engage in dangerous activities that compromise the relationship’s integrity.
What if My Family Member is Suffering From Addiction?
Those who have a family member suffering from addiction may not know how to handle the situation. They may feel nervous speaking to their loved ones about their fears or think that the problem will go away on its own. In reality, addiction will need to be professionally treated for your loved one to get better. Even if your loved one is deep-rooted in denial, there are still ways that you can help them.
Cease Enabling Behavior
Although essential, stopping all enabling behavior at once can be challenging. You may be worried that if you stop giving them money, then they will not be able to eat or have gas for their vehicle. One solution is to buy groceries or fuel for them instead of giving them loose cash. Another option would be having them show you the receipt when they return from the store. Do not turn a blind eye to the addiction, as that would also be considered enabling. Instead, hold your loved one accountable. It is crucial during these times that you reinforce feelings of love and support. Express that you only wish for them to get better and be there if they ever need to talk.
Addiction is a chronic disease, and your loved one will not get better without treatment. Keep the conversation open with your loved one and revisit it. It is essential to touch on how proud you are of your loved one’s steps and what your hopes are for their future. Encourage your loved one to start down a new path to recovery to help keep their minds and bodies healthy to make these hopes a reality. It is never too late for recovery.