How Addiction Can Affect Friends and Families
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Health and Wellness

How Addiction Can Affect Friends and Families

Drug and alcohol abuse can have a big impact on not only the user, but the users loved ones. Learn more about the lasting affects addiction has on the people around the user.

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How Addiction Can Affect Friends and Families

It's estimated that 1 in 5 children grow up in a home where one parent abuses alcohol or drugs, according to Psychology Today. Even though substance abuse is viewed as a deeply personal experience, the effects of drug and alcohol addiction can spill over into the user's relationships. Children, spouses, siblings, and parents can experience financial, legal, emotional and physical damage from witnessing a family member battle with addiction.

Whether it's short-term use or long-term use, families and happy homes can eventually break underneath the strain of addiction. Learn more about how addiction can impact the friends and family of those struggling with alcohol or drug abuse.


Encourages emotional turmoil and negative mindsets

Friends and family will experience an array of guilty thoughts while managing their relationship with an addict. They may start to blame themselves for their loved one's behavior or substance abuse, in addition to constantly questioning themselves as to what they could've done differently. In addition self-blame, the person's spouse or family member may feel disappointment, as hopes and dreams for a future together may seem out of reach or unattainable. In this case, separation or divorce can be considered by the affected spouse.

Turns into a caretaker instead of a friend


Addiction can blur set boundaries and force people into roles they didn't plan on. In most cases, friends and family members turn into a caretaker instead of a friend or a spouse. Instead of being an occasional shoulder to cry on or someone to celebrate with, they become the overseer of the person living with addiction's physical and mental health. Common caretaker behaviors can include supplying money, putting others needs above theirs, and enabling behavior to avoid a confrontation.

Creates unstable finances

In many cases, addiction can cause major stress when it comes to finances for all involved. People struggling with addiction can resort to stealing money or valuable items from loved ones to support their drug or alcohol habit. This type of behavior can lead to unpaid bills and additional unexpected costs. In addition, this can break or strain the trust between the family member and the person struggling with addiction.

Exposes children and others to damaging behavior

During their formative years, children will mostly learn by example. While they already may have a genetic risk factor of having substance abuse issues in the future, children may be more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol during their adolescent years. Because usage by a parent was so often, a child may see this behavior as normal. Studies also show that a large amount of children actually get their drugs and alcohol from a parent.



Contrary to what many think, addiction affects more than just the user. Happy homes can end up broken, families are split apart, and plans for the future can be ruined. It's important to understand what part you play in this dynamic in order to move forward in the recovery process. With the help of family and friends, along with services provided by Absolute Advocacy, the road to recovery can be in the near future.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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