Alcohol and drug addiction are one of the primary problems in many countries, especially in United States. For years, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reports that both diseases of alcohol and drug addiction affect not only the addicted person, but every member of the family as well.
Mothers, fathers, couples, single parents, regardless of their age or social status, alcohol and drug abuse can damage relationships. Most importantly, young children are the most affected when one of their family members is an alcoholic or an addict. But, both the addicted individual and the family can heal together with the right treatment and support.
How alcohol and drug addiction affects the family?
Financial Problems: For families who have a member who is addicted to alcohol or drugs, financial stability is one of the most stressful issues they have to face. Alcoholics and drug addicts are known for stealing money from their loved ones just to support their habit. In addition, if the addicted individual is the bread winner of the family, substance addiction can have a great impact on his or her career, which may lead to a job termination.
Emotional Burden: Living with an alcoholic or a drug addict loved one is definitely not an easy one. Most of the time, family members may not understand their loved one’s behavior. Not knowing what to do with the addicted family member, not knowing what will happen each day can be incredibly stressful and can bring various emotional stresses.
Health Problems: Obviously, alcohol and drug addiction often results in a number of health problems; health problems that can affect the whole family. For instance, smoking in the house can affect the other member of the family through secondhand smoking that may lead to a more serious health issue, including lung cancer.
Separation: Someone’s behavior due to alcohol and drug abuse may lead to separation/divorce or losing an effective communication from the other members of the family, most especially with the children. It may be because they have been taken away from the addicted person due to his/her inability to take care of the children or they want to stay away from the addict due to his/her harmful behavior.
Influence: Unfortunately, family members do not only experience the vicious effects of substance abuse. They are also at the higher risk of developing drug and/or alcohol addiction, especially children. It is because of what they see in their environment and from the people around them.
Family Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that guides and helps family members establish an effective communication and resolve conflicts. It is commonly assisted by a professional psychologist, therapist or a clinical social worker. The therapy program may include all family members or just those who are willing to join. The specific treatment plan will vary depending on the current situation of the family. In every session, family members can learn the skills and strategies on how to strengthen their connection and how to get through difficult times.
Just like any other disease, everybody needs enough time to heal and restore their health. For both the family members and the addicted individual, relapses and challenges may occur along the way. Make sure to learn something from each event and remain focused on recovery.