In What Ways Does Substance Abuse Affect Family Relationships?

Substance abuse has a lot of unfavorable effects on the person suffering from substance use disorder as well as the people around that person. If you are addicted to a drug, then things can get out of your control when you are deprived of it. That can have negative impacts on your family members and friends.

Teenagers who are involved in the malicious activity of drug abuse inevitably end up hurting their family members. Since they are dependent on their parents, they can cause monetary problems for them because of their drug addiction. In many cases where the elders of a household suffer from a substance use disorder, there are a lot of complications in such a family. It can lead to child abuse and other personal disputes. Substance use affects family relationships on a great level that people should understand and should seek treatment for.

Here are some of the effects of substance abuse in family relationships:

The Effects on Children

Children are the most vulnerable and innocent members of a family unit. They are completely unaware of the conditions an addict is facing and they are unable to understand them. A parent who is caught up in alcohol abuse will not care about the fact that his/her children are being affected by his/her addiction. Studies show that people who suffer from substance abuse problems tend to be abusive towards their children.

In a household where there are two parents, it is easier for the children to turn to the parent who is stable and is not involved in drug abuse. Whereas, living under the supervision of a single parent who is an addict can be really hard on children as they have no one to go to in that case. However, a household where one of the parents is suffering from addiction can also have some serious effects. Such families usually fall apart and that leaves a mark on the children. Addiction affects the family significantly and people need to understand the importance of addiction treatment for the betterment of their own families.

The Effects on Parents

Having a child who is addicted to drugs is an even more hurtful situation. The parents become helpless and are unable to identify where they went wrong with their child’s upbringing. Such cases put the parents in a position where they can’t be over-controlling their child and also not encourage his actions. Being too controlling can push their kid away from them which they are already suffering from.

As a parent, the only best solution to such a problem is to get professional help for their children. They have to try to understand the condition their children are going through and let them know that they stand by them.

The Effects on Siblings

If the brother or sister of a person is involved in drug abuse, then there are certain things that can come into effect. Many siblings who see their siblings on the wrong path of drug consumption, try to keep away from that path because they consider the stress it causes their parents, and they don’t want to add up to it by doing the same. At the same time, other siblings find it unfair to themselves and start doing the same to get more attention from their parents.

Of course, parents get concerned about their child’s mental and physical health. If their child is involved in drug abuse then they’ll try to do everything to get him out of that. Something that the siblings of such a child often don’t understand is that their parents are doing the right thing by giving attention to the affected child. This is also something that comes with age. A rather older sibling will understand this condition while a younger sibling won’t be able to which is a very common thing. But parents should be mindful that if they don’t want another drug addict in the house, they should communicate with all their children and try to get them on board with everything.

Recovery Solutions Available for Family Members

The families affected by drug problems of their siblings/children/parents have recovery solutions that can be offered to them at family therapy. Helping a family member overcome addiction is in itself crucial, but the collateral damage being caused by their addiction should also be addressed. Substance use affects the family as much as it affects the addict and hence should be treated.

Here are some remedies available for affected family members:

Individual Therapy

Receiving individual therapy for a person whose life is affected by their sibling’s/parent’s addiction problem can be a helpful thing. Neglection can lead to psychological disorders that need to be fixed for one’s own well-being. The purpose of individual therapy is to help you focus on your own self. If you have a person in your family who is addicted, then it is very normal for you to be affected mentally by it too. 

Every child needs attention and affection from their parents. If your parents are focused on your sibling and fail to understand the importance of your well-being then you should consider getting individual therapy to overcome any mental stress caused by that.

Family Therapy

It is common that more than one person in a family to be affected by the illicit drug abuse of another family member. The entire family suffers as one member is suffering. Collective therapy is offered to family members where they are taught how to cope with the rising issue. Family therapy practices involve understanding the dynamics that help in formulating a solution.

A family’s prior focus should be to keep each member intact with each other so they can focus on healing together rather than only worrying about the affected member. If you as a family are strong and stable, then you can help your affected family member with their issues as well.

Addiction and Marriage

Relationships are difficult for addicted parents and spouses but marriages, where either one or both of the spouses are drug addicts, can be even more challenging. In addition, the effects of addiction on marriage are seen in how spouses can experience psychological and emotional pain, as well as financial shortfalls in the future. The marital relationship is deeply affected by drug abuse. There have been a lot of reported alcohol abuse cases that have resulted in sexual abuse towards spouses and even children. Family addiction affects each member of the family on different levels. 


Here are some frequently asked questions by people regarding how addiction affects families:

How Does Addiction Affect Parents?

Parents with kids that are struggling with addiction face different challenges. The children of our community feel a great deal of worry in regard to security. Parents suffering from substance use disorders are unable to see their responsibilities in their child’s security. However, it makes it hard for parents to watch their children suffer. Sometimes parents take overbearing roles. This leads to sexual abuse when your child is growing up. Most parents have tried sustaining their young children financially in hopes of restoring their lives.

How can I Help a Family Member Overcome Addiction?

An addict is difficult to cope with in life. What can you offer to a family member whom you cannot help? Is there any way you could help them in a crisis that affects them? What can you do to help someone get clean? Many of those recovering from addiction have benefited from therapy and rehabilitation treatment. Mental health services administration provides support to people of the community along with professional advice from trained sponsors.


To conclude, we can say that parental substance abuse is a very alarming matter that needs to be taken care of on a much larger spectrum. Often family members don’t realize how their drug addiction is affecting their family members. Substance abuse affects your life monetarily as well as mentally. An addicted family member should be supported and helped out by other members of the family. Substance abuse treatment can be received from rehab centers that prove to lower family member struggles. Since the whole family can be affected by an addiction problem of a single person, the focus should be on all the people involved and related. The use of illicit drugs can cause domestic violence which can disrupt the functionality of a healthy family. 

Emmaus Medical & Clinical services are offered in Johnson City, Bulls gap, and Weber City. We have highly-trained experts in our outpatient rehabilitation facility. Call us today and book an appointment! The sooner you get started, the better it is. Our aim is to provide concentrated attention to our patients to help them recover from every sort of drug addiction and become independent of drugs. We have family therapy programs that offer guidance of parents struggling with addiction.

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