Drug and alcohol addiction can affect all facets of a person’s life, including their body and mind. One of the areas of their life that will become affected are their personal relationships with their family members. This family dynamic will be tested and strained in new ways than ever before, causing emotional turmoil not only for the family but also for the addict.

If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, it is important to seek help as soon as possible to help start managing the symptoms associated with the disease. This will help to repair the family unit and cause a sense of understanding between those involved.

 Strained Relationships

Addiction to drugs and alcohol can cause an addict to experience strained relationships within their family unit. This could be caused by illegal activity, inappropriate behavior, or an unwillingness to seek help. A family unit may not have the tools they need to properly address their concerns to the addict, causing misunderstandings due to miscommunication.

Family members may feel like they are at their wits end with the addict and thus, tension is building within the family. The addict will be able to sense that members of the family are unhappy with them, worsening matters.

There could be increased tension between the addict and their coworkers or boss. Often times, an addict will miss too many days of work or be using while on the job, resulting in job loss.

Close friends and spouses could also be heavily affected by an addict’s choices while experiencing addiction due to their close affiliation with their loved one.

The children of an addict could notice that their parent is not the same while using and could have a sense of their downward spiral.

Emotional Turmoil

Strained relationships between family members and an addict can lead to emotional turmoil within the family. This could be due to a variety of different reasons, including criminal activity by the addict, the addict lying to family members, or the addict stealing from the family.

Emotions can run high, especially when the family members have the best interest of the addict in mind, but do not know how to properly communicate it. This could cause certain family members to lash out angrily or teary-eyed to beg the addict to seek help. During these times, family members could potentially say things they do not mean to the addict.

Financial Instability

An addict can cause financial instability within the family unit. This is especially true if the family unit has someone who is considered an enabler, or someone who enables the addict to continue their drug abusing ways. An enabler is not always easy to identify.

For example, if the drug addict constantly asks for money and they receive money by the family, but cannot pay their bills then the family knows that the addict is not using that money for the right reasons. A family member who then gives the addict some money would be enabling them. Family members are often conflicted and feel backed into a corner, further the addict’s disease by shelling out money.


An addict’s brain has been rewired to do anything and everything it takes to achieve the next high. The family unit is at odds with this behavior, wanting the addict to stop. This need for the drug can cause the addict to behave irrationally and often erratically. A family member that “does wrong” in the addict’s eyes may be cut off entirely by the addict. However, what is most often the case, is a family member will cut off the addict due to their behavior or actions.

It is important that the family unit stays supporting and loving during this time. Isolating the addict can further their disease and cause matters to only get worse, making them feel like there’s no hope because their loved ones have left.

 Spouses of Addicts

Since spouses of addicts are generally around them more than their parents would be, they often see firsthand just how damaging the effects of addiction are. This can cause strain in their relationship or marriage. A spouse may feel primarily responsible for your addiction and blame themselves.

While it is not the spouse’s fault for your addiction, this could cause them to demonstrate enabling behavior. Often, a treatment center with a family integration can help the family members understand the addict and the process it will take to become sober

Parents of Addicts

Parents have the primary responsibility to raise us into outstanding individuals. When a disease like addiction strikes, parents often feel like they have failed their children. However, this is not the case. Addiction can happen to anyone, from all walks of life. Parents can sometimes not understand that an addiction can cause serious mental and physical effects.

The cravings for the drugs can often rewire certain brain pathways to make searching for a high almost feel automatic. This can lead the addict to engage in criminal and often dangerous activity. Parents can often feel overwhelmed and not know where to turn, especially when they do not know how to help the addict seek recovery.

Children of Addicts

Children learn a lot of their behaviors by observing others, especially those that are close to them and are deemed trustworthy figures in their lives. Continuously being exposed or witnessing certain behaviors, especially those surrounding addiction, can cause these circumstances to look normalized. This will cause the child to see that drug abuse is acceptable.

Some children are too young to understand that their parent is actually addicted and is suffering from a disease. This may lead them to experiment later on in life with drugs or alcohol. There is also the possibility that children exposed to dangerous situations could be taken away from their parents altogether.

Addiction can happen to anyone. This powerful disease can cause mental and physical changes that can hurt the family dynamic. Emotional turmoil and strained relationships will ensue. But, it does not have to be this way.

The sooner an addict gets help, the sooner they will be able to manage their symptoms. This could also promote an entity of support and understanding within the family unit. The Arizona Addiction Recovery Center can help addicts from all walks of life on their unique roads to recovery.

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Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888.512.1705.

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