Addiction is a painful disease for many reasons.  One of those reasons is the effects on the family.  Quite simply, addiction is a family disease.  One person’s drug addiction reaches out with its tentacles affecting their children, spouse, the family of origin, and even their extended family. Thus, it’s vital that everyone in the family recognizes the impact of addiction and seeks support for themselves and the addict. At Evolve Indy, we are here to support you and your loved ones on your path from addiction to sobriety. 

How Does Addiction Affect an Entire Family? 

Addiction is a family disease that can be generational and cyclical; it also alters the family dynamic. A household suffering from addiction will often be filled with a myriad of other unhealthy behaviors and poor coping mechanisms.  Whether active addiction is found in the parent or the child, conflict will be the overriding theme of the house. We often think of addiction’s impact on the family in terms of losing the addict from the family.  If mom or dad is actively addicted to drugs, they might not be able to fulfill their family responsibilities or be present for their children.  While this is undoubtedly true, there is an added burden because of the continuing stigma attached to addiction.  

A child may feel comfortable sharing with a teacher that their homework isn’t done because mommy has cancer, but maybe not as comfortable to say it’s not done because mommy is addicted to heroin. This stigma results in shame and potential isolation for the entire family. Additionally, the relationship between the parent and the child is altered completely.  A child who finds themself having to care for or keep an eye on dad because of his drug use grows up faster and nearly gives up their childhood.  

Getting sober can change the trajectory of an entire family. The relationship between addiction and family goes more in-depth than how the family functions today. For many decades now, research has demonstrated that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including substance abuse, have a lifelong impact. Growing up with a parent in active addiction can lead to substance abuse by the child later in life, a younger age for the substance use to begin, participation in risky behaviors, and poorer health overall. So, while yes, the research also shows a genetic predisposition to addiction, the risk for a child to use and abuse drugs increases exponentially when a parent’s drug use is a part of their childhood.

How Can a Family Get Help With Addiction? 

Families can get help with addiction in a variety of ways. Organizations such as Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics offer meetings following a 12-step format that supports the active alcoholic or addict family.  Al-Anon also offers Alateen, a program specifically for children of alcoholics and addicts.  Additionally, families can participate in individual and group therapy to work through the pain that addiction has caused within the family unit.  Family therapy can also assist families with rebuilding once the individual is on the path to sobriety.  Getting sober is an essential first step and the cornerstone to rebuilding a family wrecked by addiction, but there will be work to do. 

Let Us Help You and Your Family at Evolve Indy

At Evolve Indy, we have programs to meet your needs, and we care about your success in recovery.  We have a wide range of programs to meet your needs, including an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), Outpatient Addiction Treatment (OP), Community Housing, and Family Therapy Addiction Treatment.  Contact us today to see how we can best support you in your journey to sobriety!

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