The Toll of Addiction on the Family

A use disorder damages the person struggling and can negatively affect their family throughout the recovery process.

Psychological Effects of Addiction on Family and Other Loved Ones

The strain of a loved one’s use disorder can create mental health issues for those around them. When someone develops an addiction, they intentionally or otherwise force their family into focusing on them constantly. Whether it’s worrying about their safety, or worrying about how to help them, this shift family dynamic can cause anxiety disorders and depression to form.

Depending on the severity of the situation, one family member’s addiction may cause another loved one to self-medicate. The availability of alcohol and its reputation for helping ease mental pain make it a top choice for people dealing with addiction in their family. Traumatizing events during the course of recovery can leave lasting marks on people’s psyches resulting in long lived anxiety, depression, and trust issues.

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Relationships

The hardship associated with addiction places strains on family relationships. It’s fairly straightforward that if someone in your family lies to you, takes money from you, and causes you great distress that your relationship with them may become tenuous. The effects of addiction can fully change the way a family member acts.

Research shows that the children of addicted parents, especially single parents, will mature much faster than usual and assume a pseudo parental role in the household. The child may go deep into denial in order to keep their parent in a favorable light. Parents with adult children struggling with addiction also act differently. It’s common for the parent to stay too attached for too long in efforts to help their child. This state of dependency drains the family member supporting the addicted loved one, and can often lead to the family enabling the addiction through money.

Financial Strain

The Drugs

Addiction is a costly disease. The price may vary based on the drug a loved one is dependent on and the frequency with which they take it. In order to satisfy their dependence, people often trick family members into giving them money or outright stealing in order to pay for their habit. Those without access to money may try to pawn valuables in order to get the funds.

Their Health

When drug use reaches the level of addiction, the person’s health is already at risk. The often-prohibitive cost of healthcare in the US could be the most financially draining risk associated with drug use. If someone requires medical attention, especially for a large surgery or for long periods of time, the bill could send an entire family into debt trying to pay it.

Intravenous drug users experience higher rates of infections than the average population. Because they deposit the drug directly into their bloodstream, the infection can reach the heart and they may require a heart valve replacement. In 2018 the average cost for heart valve replacement surgery was $170,000. Depending on the attention you need, a 1-week hospital stay could cost anywhere from <$10,000-$200,000<. The dubious nature of insurance policy may stick a family with huge payments like these as a result of medical attention for drug abuse.

The Law

Many addictions involve illegal drugs, or the illegal use of legally prescribed drugs. If the police catch someone in possession of illicit substances, heavy fines and even jail time may soon follow. Fines and legal fees place a heavy burden on family members who may be fiscally responsible for the person suffering from the addiction.

Getting caught driving under the influence guarantees a heavy fine and the resulting loss of license can cause further financial issues. If someone lives in an area where they need their car to reach their job, loss of license due to addiction can cripple their finances. This consequence shifts financial burdens onto the family in order to support this person or move them to an area where they can reach work by alternate means.

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Their Recovery

Getting help for an addiction puts someone in a much better position for success rather than tackling it alone. Unavoidably, the professionals available to help quit an addiction need payment. Family often pay the bill in order to get their loved one back on track. Not all options are extremely expensive, but the chance of relapse and having to re-enter a program can quickly add up expenses. While treatment comes at a cost, it is always better to try and get professionals involved in order to avoid the larger legal and health-related expenses and get your loved one back to sobriety.

Reaching Out

If one of your loved ones is struggling with addiction and you can relate to some of the information here, do not hesitate to ask for help. Not only can providers help your loved one quit their habit, but help is available for you and any other family members and friends that may have gotten caught in the crossfire of addiction.

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