Addiction is a disease that impacts millions of people around the world. It doesn’t just affect the addict either, it affects their loved ones, friends and other people they come into contact with, too. 

If you are a member of a family where someone has an alcohol or drug addiction, you may already know that every action or behavior they have will impact you and other loved ones. You may also notice that you and other family members are constantly in a state of heightened anxiety and stress. You might have a range of feelings including sadness, anger, confusion, responsibility and guilt. There may be increased isolation, dysfunction and conflict. 

If you have a loved one with an addiction, know that you can try to get them help and treatment here at Riverwalk Recovery. 

Effects of Addiction on the Family

Unfortunately, from the most distant relative to the closest, everyone can suffer some distress due to a family member’s addiction. Some of the effects of addiction on the family might include:

  • Mental health issues (anxiety, resentment, anger, risky behaviors, hopelessness, depression, isolation, and shame)
  • Physical health issues (increased pain, worsened health issues, etc.)
  • Financial issues (paying legal fees, money stolen from them, spending own money on addict’s housing and other responsibilities)

If you or someone in the family is impacted in these ways or any others due to a family member;s addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Riverwalk Recovery team for help. 

It is also important to note the negative effects that addiction can have on the children in your family. Some of these effects include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Impaired future relationships
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Increased chances of getting divorced in the future
  • Higher chance of developing an addiction themselves
  • Becoming aggressive and/or violent
  • Reduced learning capacity

If there are children impacted by you or your loved one’s addiction, there are support programs that can help them to heal, as well. 

Formation of Unhealthy Patterns

Many family members will try controlling the addict’s behaviors as a way of dealing with the situation. The problem is that an addict isn’t going to get help until they are ready to do so. Controlling them is likely only going to make things worse. Some of the other unhealthy patterns that may form include:

  • Communication issues – generally criticizing, complaining, or having a lot of conflict in relationships
  • Not sticking to rules or boundaries – difficulty setting and sticking to boundaries, problems setting limits, not following through with what you say when boundaries are not followed, etc. 
  • Expectations are misguided – your expectations and beliefs of your loved one’s addiction and lifestyle might not be on-base which leads you to be disappointed all the time
  • Anger that is misdirected – you may take out your feelings toward your family member on other people
  • Substance abuse – eventually, your loved one’s addiction may cause you to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs due to the stress you are under
  • Trying to keep the peace no matter what 
  • Enabling your loved one 

In most cases of addiction, family dynamics are changed. If you have one or more loved ones with an addiction, this can cause the issues above, codependency and much more. However, there are support groups and others ways that you can heal and recover. There are also many places, such as here at Riverwalk Recovery, where your loved one can go if they are ready to recover from their addiction.

Young woman with depression having psychological help

Dissolution of Relationships

Due to the unreliability, lying, deceit and inconsistency associated with the addiction, everything in the family system can be off-balance. Over time, there may be some family relationships that just don’t hold up due to the constant differences and disagreements driving them apart. 

If you have been in an addictive relationship, whether you were the person with the addiction or it was someone in your family, there are many feelings you may still be having regarding the dissolution of the relationship. 

Here at Riverwalk Recovery, we offer family therapy and a range of other treatments that can help you and others in your family to deal with the addict in your life. 

Prejudices and Stigma Surrounding Family Addictions

There are many prejudices and stigmas surrounding family addictions that usually develop based on misguided information. Nonetheless, these prejudices and stigmas are harmful due to the fact that they can:

  • Create hurtful attitudes toward others
  • Stop people from getting the help they need
  • Encouraging disconnection and isolation due to shame and other negative feelings

As a team of qualified professionals, here at Riverwalk Recovery, we want you to know that these prejudices and stigmas don’t have to define you. Most of them aren’t true anyways and even if some were, they don’t have to be the backbone of your decisions regarding addiction treatment. 

Healing for the Entire Family

Addictions are family diseases. For this reason, everyone in the family will need to heal and recover, not just the person with the drug or alcohol addiction. To start the healing process, every family member will need to start taking care of themselves. There are numerous self-care tips that you can implement such as:

  • Participate in activities with those you enjoy being around
  • Request and accept help when you need it or others offer it
  • Add structure to your day using goals and routines
  • Prioritize your mental and physical health by exercising, eating healthier, resting, and taking breaks
  • Find news ways to relax
  • Accept what you can’t control
  • Focus on gratitude

If you can start doing these things, attending family therapy and trying to focus on your healing overall, you can start and continue in the healing process.

It is also important that we mention there are numerous support groups that can help you and your family members to heal from addiction. Some of these options include the following:

  • Co-Anon
  • Families Anonymous
  • Adult Children Anonymous
  • Adult Children of Alcoholics
  • Co-dependents Anonymous 
  • Alateen
  • Al-Anon

These support groups offer a lot of helpful resources, support and understanding for what you are going through with your loved one’s addiction. You can also choose to attend individual therapy, group therapy and family therapy sessions. There is also something called Community Reinforcement and Family Training. 

Get Addiction Healing Help Today

Do you have a loved one who is addicted to alcohol or drugs? If so, we know how much this may be affecting you and other family members. Here at Riverwalk Recovery, we have many treatments that can help your loved one. There are also family therapy sessions and other support groups that can help you, as well. 

Contact us today to find out more about the addiction treatments and other recovery resources. 

1 thought on “Is Addiction a Family Disease”

  1. Thank you for shedding light on the profound impact of addiction on families. It’s crucial to acknowledge the ripple effect it has, causing mental, physical, and financial strains. Seeking help from professionals like Riverwalk Recovery is a vital step toward healing for both the individual with addiction and their loved ones. Remember, support groups and therapy can provide invaluable guidance on this journey to recovery and well-being.

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