effects of drug addiction on family members

Drug addiction affects an estimated 23 million Americans. Nearly one in every three households in the United States has someone addicted to drugs or alcohol. But if you thought addiction only affects the addict, you would be wrong.

The effects of drug addiction are far-reaching and can have a significant impact on every member of the family.

The effects trickle down from the addict to the spouse, children, parents, grandparents, and friends. No one is spared the emotional and physical effects of addiction. The Holistic Sanctuary holistic rehab looks at how addiction affects families.

1. Spousal/Partner Relationships are Strained

It’s no secret that addiction can take a toll on relationships. And when one member of a couple is addicted, it often causes strain on the entire relationship.

The addicted individual may withdraw from their partner, be emotionally and physically abusive, lie, cheat, and steal. In a relationship where one person is addicted, there is often very little trust.

They may become depressed, resentful, and even start to use drugs or alcohol themselves as a way of coping. It’s not uncommon for the non-addicted partner to threaten divorce or leave the relationship altogether.

So it’s not uncommon for addiction to cause marriages or long-term relationships to end. In fact, addiction is one of the leading causes of divorce.

How to Cope:

If you’re in a relationship with someone addicted, you must seek help. There are many support groups available for spouses and partners of addicts.

Apart from admitting the partner to a holistic rehab like The Holistic Sanctuary, you may also want to consider seeking individual counseling or couples therapy. This can help you to communicate better, identify any underlying issues, and work on rebuilding trust.

Read More: Holistic Addiction Treatment: What Is It & How Does It Work? 

2. Children Suffer Emotionally and Behave Badly

The effects of a parent’s drug addiction on children are wide-ranging and can be quite severe. Some of the most common effects include the following:

  • Emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, and attachment issues
  • Behavioral problems such as aggression, acting out, and delinquency
  • Poor academic performance
  • Difficulty forming and maintaining relationships
  • Increased risk of developing a substance abuse problem themselves

Children who grow up in homes where one or both parents are addicted often suffer from a great deal of emotional pain. They may feel isolated, confused, scared, and even ashamed.

They may also blame themselves for their parent’s addiction or feel they could somehow have prevented it. As a result, they may have trouble forming attachments and trusting people.

Children of addicts are also at a greater risk of developing behavioral problems. They may act out in school, get into fights, or engage in other risky behaviors. Additionally, they’re more likely to have academic difficulties.

Children of addicts are four times more likely to develop a substance abuse problem later down the road.

How to Cope:

The best way to help your children cope with a parent’s addiction is to get them professional help. This might include therapy, counseling, or even medication.

It’s also important to talk to your children about addiction and what it means. Help them to understand that it’s not their fault and that they can’t do anything to prevent or cure their parent’s addiction.

Reassuring them that you’re there for them and that you’ll do everything you can to help their parent get better can also be helpful.

3. The non-addicted partner may begin to withdraw

Apart from the lack of trust in relationships where one person is addicted, the non-addicted partner may also begin to withdraw.

This withdrawal may take the form of physical distance, emotional distance, or both. The non-addicted partner may start working longer hours, spending more time away from home, or just generally pulled away from the relationship.

They may become emotionally distant, withdrawn, and even cold. This can be very hard for the addicted individual and can lead to further conflict.

The non-addicted partner may also start to use drugs or alcohol as a way of coping. This is known as self-medicating and can quickly lead to addiction. When this happens, it’s the children who often suffer the most.

How to Cope:

If you’re in a relationship with someone who is addicted, the best thing you can do is to reach out for help. Other than going to rehab like The Holistic Sanctuary, many support groups and counseling services are available for family members of addicts.

It’s also important to take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. Talk to close friends or family about what you’re going through, and consider seeing a therapist yourself.

It’s also necessary to set boundaries with the addicted individual. Make it clear that their addiction is unacceptable and that there will be consequences if they continue using drugs or alcohol.

4. Parent-Child Relationships are Damaged

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Children are very intuitive, and they always know when something is wrong. You might not think they know about your addiction, but they can sense when something isn’t right.

This often leads to them feeling scared, confused, and even ashamed. As a result, the parent-child relationship is damaged.

The parent-child relationship is one of the most important relationships in a child’s life. It’s the foundation upon which all other relationships are built. When that relationship is damaged, it can have a ripple effect that lasts a lifetime.

How to Cope:

The first step is to be honest with your children about your or your spouse’s addiction. Explain what addiction is and why it’s a problem.

Let them know you’re getting help and that you’re sorry for how the addiction has affected them. Reassure them that you love them and that the addicted person is committed to getting better.

Encourage them to talk about their feelings and give them age-appropriate information about addiction and recovery. Finally, make sure you follow through on your commitments so they know they can trust you.

5. Finances are Strained

Addiction is an expensive disease. Not only do you have to pay for the drugs or alcohol, but you also have to pay for the consequences of addiction. These include legal fees, hospital bills, lost wages, and more.

Addiction costs the US economy over $500 billion every year. And that’s just the financial cost. When you factor in the human cost, the numbers are even higher.

All of this financial strain can put a huge strain on families. The non-addicted partner may have to work longer hours or get a second job to make ends meet. This can lead to even more stress and conflict.

How to Cope:

The first step is to be honest about your finances. Sit down with your partner and make a budget. Figure out what you can afford to spend on addiction treatment and what you need to cut back on.

It’s also crucial to get rid of any enabling behaviors. This includes giving the addict money, bailing them out of jail, or letting them live with you rent-free.

Enabling only makes the addiction worse and puts more strain on the family. It’s important to remember that you can’t fix the addict’s problems. You can only control your behavior.

6. The children may start to emulate the addict

One of the worst effects of addiction is that it can be passed down from generation to generation. If you’re a parent struggling with addiction, your children are at a higher risk of developing an addiction.

This is because they learn by example. They see you using drugs or alcohol and think it’s okay or even desirable. Think about it: if your child saw you smoking cigarettes, they would be more likely to start smoking.

It’s the same with addiction. The children may start to emulate the addict, leading to a lifelong battle with addiction.

How To Cope:

The good news is that you can break the cycle of addiction. By getting help for addiction, you can show your children that there’s a better way to live. You can also get them involved in prevention and treatment programs so they can learn more about addiction and how to avoid it.

7. The Family May Become Isolated

Addiction can lead to isolation in many ways. The addict may start to withdraw from family and friends. They may stop participating in activities they used to enjoy. They may even lose their job or drop out of school.

As the addict withdraws, the family may start to withdraw as well. They may stop going out, seeing friends, and doing things they enjoy. The family may become isolated both physically and emotionally.

How To Cope:

It’s important to make an effort to stay connected to your loved ones, even if the addict is withdrawing from the family. Make plans with friends and family, even if the addict doesn’t want to come.

It’s also important to get help for the addict. Addiction treatment like that in The Holistic Sanctuary luxury rehab center can help the addict reconnect with the family and build a support system to prevent relapse.


There’s no doubt that addiction takes a toll on families. But with understanding and support, families can heal the effects of addiction.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to seek help. The first step is always the hardest but also the most important. With treatment, families can overcome addiction and build a better life.