The Impact of Substance Abuse on Family Members
The impact of addiction on family members varies. However, there are general issues which often arise in households where addiction is taking place:
- Unpredictability of the abuser
- Financial strain
- Disruption in the cohesion of parental and family relationships
- Emotional withdrawal of one or both parents
- Verbal, emotional and/or physical abuse
People live in a socio-cultural context. Family history, a person’s spouse, an immediate and wider family members play a part in the substance abuse problems.
When the family member who is abusing substances alters their behaviour, it affects the wider family. Similarly, if family members from the wider family change their behaviour towards substance abusing, it affects the substance user.
The family is a system. The ‘using addict’ causes dysfunction in the structure, and dysfunctional patterns of interaction within the system. As the addiction progresses, so does the devastation on the family.