addiction and family

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Substance abuse disorders affect over 19.7 million people in the United States.

That’s if you’re only taking the addict into account.

Unfortunately, the effects of addiction go beyond the individual user. It often affects friends and loved ones in emotional, physical, and financial ways.

Here are four surprising connections between addiction and family.

1. There Are Correlations Between Genetics and Addiction

Heredity accounts for half of the risk of developing an addiction.

In other words, a person’s DNA may predispose them to develop a substance abuse disorder.

Even if your loved one is the only one in the family with an addiction, this fact brings up an important point.

Substance abuse affects your brain and internal health. As it changes your brain chemistry, the idea of use being solely a choice goes out the window.

Realizing it’s a mental health issue helps families release judgments and expectations. That way, they can work towards finding solutions to help the addict.

2. Families Often Enable Addicts

The flip side of the coin with releasing judgments and expectations is denial of abuse.

Unconditional love can cause families to look past abuse and justify irregular actions. This inherently causes enabling.

Enabling is removing natural consequences. Families may try to help addicts once they stop denying it. This can manifest in making excuses or financially supporting their loved one.

As a result, the addict may not hit “rock bottom” and may not have the motivation to seek professional help.

It’s a fine line to walk when figuring out how to help your loved one without enabling them and without leaving them alone or homeless.

If you find yourself in this position, seek out counseling or advice from an addiction center. They can educate and help you move forward.

There are also many cases where the family doesn’t know their loved one suffers from substance abuse.

3. Alternatively, Families Often Don’t Recognize Addiction

Not all addictions are apparent and life-shattering. In the long term, many are.

However, many addicts are high-functioning. This means they can accomplish everyday activities, such as working or paying bills. Their addiction hasn’t completely deteriorated their external world and they have a handle on things.

There are a few red flags that family members should be aware of:

  • Frequent excuses (unreliable)
  • “Accidentally” overdoing it with a substance
  • Peers who are addicts
  • Lack of interest
  • Late nights
  • Miscommunications
  • Irregular moods
  • Trouble with the law

While these factors don’t exclusively pertain to addiction, they can be clues if you suspect something is going on with your loved one.

When in doubt, investigate. Even high-functioning addicts eventually suffer the mental and physical consequences of substance abuse.

It’s better to educate yourself on abuse and figure out exactly what’s going on so you don’t enable and can urge they get help.

If evidence shows up that they, for instance, abuse pain pills, it’s not a hopeless situation. Many places, like this site, offer treatment and rehabilitation.

4. There’s a Correlation Between Addiction and Family

This is specifically regarding dysfunctional families.

The relationship between the two is one of causation. Addiction causes families to become dysfunctional.

Traditional roles in the family become morphed due to a need to compensate for the addict. Children often suffer from neglect and exposure.

The relationship also goes the other way. Dysfunctional families often cause addiction. Instability in the home can cause family members to abuse substances and become addicted.

Regardless of which way it goes down, the results are still the same. The families of addicts should seek education, counseling, and therapy to help themselves and their loved ones.

Don’t Lose Hope

Addiction is not final. With the right treatment and support systems, your loved one can conquer it.

However, realize that when it comes to addiction and family, you can only make decisions for yourself.

Choose to take care of yourself, to educate yourself, and to refrain from enabling. That can make the world of a difference.

If you can encourage your loved one to go to a rehabilitation center, you’ll want to read this article about avoiding ones that are inferior.