The issue with addiction is that it does not only affect the individual who abuses the substance, but it also impacts the lives of many other people who are close to the addict. If you or a loved one are experiencing addiction, you may be wondering what negative affects this can have on those around you.
The Development of Codependency
One issue that can arise, either in the spouse or children of an addict, is codependency. According to NIDA, the codependent’s life is basically controlled by the addiction of their loved one, as they base their life decisions off of the addict’s situation.
They will spend their time catering to the needs of the addict, in the ways that the addict wishes, which can not only harm the codependent but also render the addict more dependable. This lifestyle can greatly harm an individual’s self-esteem and worldview, and can also make the process of recovery a more difficult achievement.
Changes in Family Structure
The impact of substance abuse on a family can drastically alter the family structure, as one person may have to step up to fill the role that the addict should be in. If it is a parent with an addiction issue, the other spouse may take on more of the parental responsibility and pressure to make up for the lack of effort of the addict.
In a single-parent home, this pressure often will fall to a child, who is forced to mature too quickly and take on many responsibilities of the home. The home environment that kids of an addict grow up in has a large impact on the rest of their life, which is why so many support groups for adult children of addicts exist.
Negative Emotional Effects
According to NCBI, the effect of addiction reaches even beyond immediate family. Extended family members may also experience the same anxiety, fear, guilt, or other emotions involved with having a loved one who is an addict.
This can create tension or confusion throughout the whole extended family, and as a result, can create effects on future generations of the family. Addiction also impacts non-family members of the addict, such as neighbors, coworkers, and friends.
Coworkers may have to put in extra effort in the workplace to make up for the decrease in productivity of the addict, which can create a strain in the workplace and produce resentment. Neighbors and acquaintances may experience this strain as well since individuals with an addiction are often unreliable, or may ask for financial help.
With all of these factors, the addict may find themselves feeling isolated over time as their addiction carries on. While their family and friends most likely care about them greatly, they also know the damage that could result from letting their addiction impact them too much, so they choose to cut the ties or step away from the situation.
This is a difficult journey, and one you shouldn’t have to face alone, so it is important to seek professional advice and support to make recovery a smoother process.