Substance Abuse Problems from Family Members of Adults

A man struggling with abuse

It is common knowledge that substance abuse not only affects the individual abusing drugs, but all those around them. In particular, the family of a drug addict is significantly affected by their drug abuse. In the past, there have been studies that show the damage that families can have on their own, which can result in substance abuse. Until recently, there has been a limited amount of information on the effects the drug addict has on their family. Thanks to these recent studies, families can be better prepared to handle drug addiction in the family and thwart the oncoming freight train that is drug addiction. Families of drug addicts only want what is best for that individual. The last thing they want to witness or allow is the suffering of a loved one. The problems the family suffers because of a drug addicted loved one can be severe, but there are ways to stop it from getting bad.

Problems for the Family – Enabling

Families dealing with a drug addicted loved one want one thing: for everything to go back to normal. Families dealing with this problem are often in disarray and conflict. Different family members believe in doing different things, blame each other, and are angry. They want to help, but unfortunately do not know how to. Helping a drug addict can be difficult because the wrong help could actually hurt their chances of recovery. When helping becomes negative, it is called enabling. Enabling has many forms, but in the broadest sense of the word, it is taking care of an addict rather than caring for them by allowing an addict to continue abusing drugs while they live with family, paying for their bills, giving them money, or making excuses to cover for their addiction.


Families can become divided by the drug addiction. Different family members believe that the addiction should be remedied in different ways, which can cause separation. A void can be formed when a family member begins to ignore others because they put all of their focus on the addict.

Resentment and Anger

Drug addiction can be incredibly severe on the families of the addicts. Many addicts will push their family to the brink of destruction. The complication of repeated events that negatively affect the family can cause extreme anger and resentment. For example, the mother who focuses all of her attention on the daughter with an addiction will neglect other children and her spouse. The spouse can eventually become extremely resentful because his/her partner has ignored their needs for those of their addicted child. Many children in the family will become resentful to the attention that one child is getting; they may even develop addictions themselves in an attempt to get attention.


Drug addiction is a very expensive addiction to have. Addicts will do whatever it takes to continue to abuse drugs. As a result, the family can easily become victim of the addict’s habits. Addicts steal money, jewelry, and any other items from family that will help them get more drugs.

Getting Help

Families that are going through addiction with one of their family members are not doomed to suffer these fates. Instead, if they are able to take the right steps, together as a family, they can help their loved one without destroying the family. The best thing families can do is educate themselves on drugs and addiction. The second thing they should do is speak with an addiction specialist. They will be able to help them conduct an intervention, find the best treatment, programs, support groups, and how to set proper boundaries. If the family works together, they can combat addiction without disrupting the family unit.



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