Drug and alcohol abuse affects the entire family, not just the individual using the substance. It is important to understand what effects are caused by addiction in order to discover ways to seek help if a family member is struggling with addiction.
How Drugs Affect Families
When a family member abuses alcohol or other drugs, the person may not necessarily have an addiction. Alcohol abuse impacts families in many ways. Here are just some of them:
Parental Alcohol Use
A parent with alcohol use disorder will have a very negative impact on family members. The first step is to notice a problem exists and seek help. Spouses and kids are primarily affected although members of the extended family may be impacted as well.
Partner Alcohol Use
It is difficult to live with a person who drinks due to the problems it creates. The drinker will create conflict and feel torn between wanting to keep drinking and not wanting to cause harm to others. Fear, shame and guilt may be overwhelming emotions for the partner who tries to ‘fix’ the situation, taking on extra responsibilities to cover things up. It is important to seek support or help from a group, friend or counselor about how to approach the situation.
Effect on Children
A parent’s addiction may affect a son or daughter of a parent who abuses alcohol or drugs by adopting a role which helps the family. The person’s own needs may be neglected but it is easier to get support because any of the following scenarios may occur in children with parents who drink:
- The family hero is often the eldest in the family and is responsible and successful. The person will feel insecure, confused and angry.
- The scapegoat will feel blamed as things go awry. Every person focuses on this individual’s faults which gives the family distraction from the problem. Rebelliousness, law-breaking behavior and a tough attitude may lead to risk of abusing drugs to deal with hurt feelings and those of loneliness and rejection
- The lost child may try to drift away mentally and not bother anyone but inside the individual is quietly hurt, angry and feeling inadequate
- The mascot is often referred to as the clown, or the person who is charming and fun to be with but quite fragile and easily hurt. The individual becomes good at hiding feelings
Whether it is a parent, child or other loved one who abuses alcohol, the key is to find support for the entire family. Individuals with addiction must face the abuse head on to seek treatment and help for the situation. Others in the family can seek help from counselors, groups for families of those who drink and online support groups are available. Recovery is a lifelong process which requires focus and determination to find a way back to healthy dynamics for the entire family.
If your family member is struggling with alcohol abuse, there is help and hope on the other side. Call The Villa to find out how we can support your journey as a family member of a loved one with alcoholism. The journey to recovery is not done alone.