How Addiction Affects Family and Friends?
Your excessive alcohol use or drug use doesn’t just impact your life. It can cause extreme stress on your loved ones, including your children, parents, siblings, and spouse.
When you’re suffering from an addiction, it can be difficult to see the depression your illness is causing on those close to you. However, understanding the emotional, financial, and physical toll it’s taken on them can help motivate you to get the support and help you need for recovery.
Looking at the situation from the perspective of your loved ones can be eye-opening. It’s helpful to acknowledge that your addiction isn’t just hurting you, but everyone around you who loves you and cares about you. Let’s take a look at some of the ways your substance abuse affects your family and friends.
How Addiction Affects Family and Friends Emotionally
One of the most painful experiences a person can have is watching someone they love suffer from addiction. Whether it’s your children, parents, siblings, or spouse, they simply want to see you get better. However, wanting to help you and knowing how to go about it are two very different things.
Having a close relationship with someone who is suffering from excessive alcohol use or drug use can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. Your addiction can completely change your personality and turn you into a person your loved ones no longer recognize. This leaves them mourning for the person you used to be to them.
Other ways your addiction can cause emotional strife to include:
- Your spouse may feel helpless, neglected, fearful, and frustrated. Their self-worth can take a dive when you seemingly prioritize drugs or alcohol over them. Addiction often takes a front seat in the relationship.
- Your parents might wonder if it is something they did wrong. Even if you don’t blame them in any way, it’s natural for parents to place blame on themselves.
- If you have children, your addiction can put them in an unfair position as they’re forced to assume the unnatural position of being your caregiver. Children who grow up in a home with an addict often later have to deal with unresolved anger, resentment, and trust issues.
Family and friends of addicts must establish boundaries, which can be incredibly difficult and painful. It may take years for them to get to this point and may even erode the relationship altogether.
While you may feel resentment and anger towards them for doing this, it’s important to understand that this is often the last resort for your family and friends and they are doing it because they feel they are being left with no other option.
How Addiction Affects Family and Friends Financially
Addiction isn’t cheap. In addition to the money that your loved ones may have loaned you that you used for drugs or alcohol, substance abuse can also make it difficult for you to hold down a job.
You probably feel a lot of shame having to rely on your family and friends for money. However, financial issues also place undue stress on people who are depending on you for financial support and income, such as your children.
When you’re unable to maintain employment or continue to feed your fixes with your earnings, it can result in anger and resentment from your spouse and other family members which can be difficult to mend. It also creates trust issues as they learn your addiction is your top priority—before even paying the electricity bill or getting groceries.
You may even find yourself stealing money from your loved ones in order to pay for alcohol or drugs. Committing crimes against the people who love you is unfair to them, creates unnecessary trust issues, and puts them in a difficult position.
If you’ve ever been arrested or dealt with law enforcement while under the influence, you likely know the financial burden legal ramifications can bring. Without a steady and reliable source of income, your family and friends find themselves funding your addiction and, literally, paying for the consequences of it.
How Addiction Affects Family and Friends Physically
As an addict, you’re no stranger to the physical effects of alcohol or drug abuse. It can lead to:
- Severe fluctuations in weight
- Injuries from reckless behavior and accidents while under the influence
- Damage to your organs.
- Infectious diseases.
- Skin lesions and collapsed veins.
In addition to the negative repercussions it can have on your physical health, your addiction can also take a physical toll on those closest to you.
If alcohol or drugs make you angry, you may end up getting violent with your family or friends. In addition to the emotional abuse that can steam from addiction, it can also lead to physical abuse as well.
There is a link between substance abuse and domestic violence. When children grow up witnessing and experiencing this kind of physical harm, it increases their risk of ending up in an abusive relationship when they’re older.
Another way addiction can affect your loved ones is when their emotional distress can manifest physically. They may:
- Have trouble sleeping at night.
- Feel unable to maintain a healthy weight or diet.
- Develop chronic depression.
- Experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Your loved ones stress’ about your addiction can be detrimental to their emotional, and in turn, physical health. If your well being isn’t enough to drive you to get help, perhaps the health of your loved ones is.
Get Treatment for Your Addiction
The best thing you can do to alleviate the burden placed on your loved ones is to seek professional treatment and begin your journey to recovery. Your family and friends will likely be more than happy to get help for you and assist you in learning how to quit.
Even if you believe you have burned too many bridges, treating your addiction is the first step toward mending those relationships. The hardest part is taking the first step, but you’ll be glad you did.
Call Spring Hill Recovery today to learn more about what you can do to get help for your addiction!
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
©2023 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.
- https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/when-a-loved-one-has-an-addiction https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/when-a-loved-one-has-an-addiction
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64258/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64258/
- https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/How-drugs-affect-your-body https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/How-drugs-affect-your-body
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64437/pdf/Bookshelf_NBK64437.pdf https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64437/pdf/Bookshelf_NBK64437.pdf