The effects of drug addiction and alcoholism on chronic abusers are well-documented and obvious. Prolonged alcohol and/or drug abuse deteriorates the physical health of a person and impairs their mental functioning while damaging their spirit. However, that is not all. These adverse effects extend to the immediate family of the addict and this damage manifests itself in different ways. Drug abuse affects family members in more impactful ways than most people think.
Drug Addiction and Alcoholism as a Family Disease
In some cases, addicts’ families include members of their immediate families and those of their extended families. All these are affected by the substance abuse of a person in different ways, whether it be through the finances of a family, its psychological wellbeing, or even their physical health.
The Roles of Family in Addiction
The first persons to seek help from free alcohol treatment centers are, in most cases, members of the families of addicts. In a family unit, every member plays a certain role or even several roles. And, this is what makes the family unit function properly and maintain a certain level of stability, balance, and homeostasis. Drug addiction affects family members differently.
However, the involvement of substance abuse in a family dynamic causes a shift in the roles played by its members. This shift is necessary because members have to adjust to the behaviors that are associated with alcohol or drug use. It’s this shift that enables the family unit to maintain balance and order.
Research has shown that the family plays certain roles when it comes to treating different health problems, including addiction and substance abuse. Addiction involves six roles that explain the functioning of a family when a member abuses drugs. Here are those roles:
The Enabler’s Role
In most cases, the older child of a single parent or a non-addicted spouse assumes this role. It entails taking care of the things that the abuser leaves undone. They may include taking care of children, finances, and coming up with justifications for the abuser in business and social situations. The enabler is always in denial when it comes to the severity of the problem of the addict. They also make excuses for them instead of helping them seek free addiction help.
The Hero’s Role
An older child that overachieves in a family and seems serious or confident assumes this role. It involves handling responsibilities that may exceed their stage or parental roles. In most cases, heroes are perfectionists. Therefore, maintaining this role becomes difficult as the addiction progresses leading to increased responsibilities.
The Scapegoat’s Role
This can be a family child that habitually misbehaves and exhibits defiant tendencies when faced with authority. Such individuals are always in trouble, whether at home or in school. In adulthood, these individuals can face legal problems. Their behaviors reflect a chaotic and poisonous atmosphere at home.
The Mascot’s Role
Drug addiction can make the home environment uncomfortable. In that case, one of the members of the family can assume the mascot’s role. Humor can become a coping mechanism. Mascots know that their comedy can bring moments of relief in the family. Therefore, they play this role to bring comfort and balance in the family.
The Lost Child’s Role
This role is played by an isolated family member. This has difficulties developing a relationship with other members. That’s because they are not comfortable in social situations. As such, they use fantasy to distract themselves from the negative environment, both physically and emotionally.
The Addict’s Role
This is the person that abuses addictive substances chronically. They feel guilt, remorse, and shame about the distress and pain they have inflicted on their families. Unfortunately, the addictive nature of psychoactive substances can’t let them seek free drug addiction help. This brings them great resentment and anger from the other family members.
The establishment of these roles during the childhood of a person makes them behavioral patterns. They continue to evolve and play out throughout to adulthood. The impact of drug addiction on family members after the development of the problem later in life leads to other issues. That’s because family roles are already set firmly. Unfortunately, there is a blurred line between child/parent relationships, as well as, parent/friend relationships. These make remedying the situation extremely difficult.
Parents of Drug Addicts and Alcoholics
Realizing that a child is an addict is an unpleasant experience and a rude awakening for any parent. It can cause the parent to question their decisions or parental abilities. Thus, some parents blame themselves for their children’s addiction.
When teens and adolescents develop substance use disorders, their parents have some power because they control the household and finances. They can, therefore, wield this power to stage an expert’s intervention for them. They can also use it to convince their children to get free drug addiction treatment.
However, parents of adult children may not wield this power. Thus, they may not convince them to seek treatment. This is particularly the case when parents and addicted children live separately.
Children of Drug Addicts and Alcoholics
Research has shown that children whose parents have substance use disorders are at a higher risk of neglect, abuse, physical problems, poorer academic performance, poor impulse or behavior control, oppositional or conduct disorders, poor emotional regulation, as well as, psychiatric problems like substance abuse, anxiety, and depression.
Parental drug addiction and alcoholism can instill loneliness, poor self-image, anxiety, guilt, helplessness feelings, fear of being abandoned, and chronic depression among children. These issues can become severe problems later in their lives. What’s more, abusing addictive substances during pregnancy can cause developmental and behavioral disorders in kids.
Spouses of Drug Addicts and Alcoholics
Drug addiction or alcoholism can ruin a long-term relationship or marriage. Alcoholism and drug addiction have been associated with higher rates of divorce. Addiction of one partner can compel the other to handle almost all household responsibilities. But, if both partners are addicts or alcoholics, they feed and enable the problem. And the home atmosphere becomes more toxic. But if one spouse is sober, they can try to keep things in order or encourage their partner to seek treatment.
The Bottom Line
The effects of alcoholism and drug addiction are rarely limited to the addict. Everybody living with the addict is affected by the problem in some ways. Family members, especially children, parents, and spouses are mostly affected by the addictive behaviors of a person. That’s why they are mostly the first persons to urge them to seek help from free rehab facilities. The situation gets worse when spouses in a marriage are drug addicts or alcoholics. Nevertheless, any family member can overcome addiction to lead a sober life with proper treatment and support of loved ones.