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The Toll Of Addiction On The Family

A substance use disorder (SUD) affects the person using substances or alcohol and can negatively affect their family throughout the process of addiction.

Psychological Effects Of Addiction On The Family And Other Loved Ones

The strain of a loved one’s substance use disorder (SUD) can create mental health issues, like depression or anxiety, in the family system. When someone develops an addiction, the family begins to focus their attention to that person. Whether it’s worrying about their safety, or worrying about how to help them, this shift in the family dynamic can cause anxiety disorders and symptoms of depression to form.

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

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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 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 despite well-intentions.

Financial Strain Of Addiction On The Family

Even families that aren’t afflicted by addiction are having tough conversations around the dinner table these days. But the added burden of addiction can seem unbearable. Below are just a few ways that addiction can drain a family’s resources.

The Drugs

Addiction is a costly disease in many ways. The price may vary based on the drug a loved one is dependent on and the frequency with which they use it. To satisfy their cravings and physical dependence, people with a SUD may manipulate family members into giving them money, or they may steal from them. Those without access to cash may try several tactics to get money, like pawning their valuables.

Their Health

When drug use reaches the level of addiction, physical health consequences begin. 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 hospitalizations, the bill could create a tremendous amount of debt for the family.

For example, 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 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 may cause financial strain on family members who may be fiscally responsible for the person with a SUD.

Getting caught driving under the influence will result in steep fines and the loss of one’s driver’s license, which can cause further financial concerns. 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 their loved one 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. Recovery can also benefit the family, as a loved one’s addiction may have contributed to the development of mental health disorders in family members (the shame of this as felt by the addict may be a contributor to further drug or alcohol abuse). Unavoidably, the professionals available to help quit an addiction need payment. The family often pays the bill in order to get their loved one back on track. Some options are affordable, while others can be costly; however, re-entering a program can quickly add up expenses. While treatment comes at a cost, it is always better to get professionals involved to avoid the more considerable legal and health-related costs and get your loved one back to sobriety.

How To Lessen The Toll Of Addiction On The Family: Reach 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. Contact a treatment provider today.

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