The Impact of Addiction on Family Members
Oftentimes, when individuals discuss the impact of substance use, they focus on the one engaging in substance use. Though no one experiences the same consequences as the individual engaging in substance use, family members are often impacted as well. According to the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, approximately 1 in 8 children living within the United States lived in a household with at least one parent who was diagnosed with a substance use disorder. (4) Additionally, those with a family members who engaged in substance use, specifically children, were more at risk of experiencing maltreatment. (5)
According to research, characteristics present in family units where an individual is engaging in substance use include: (6)
- Dysfunctional family patterns and relationships
- Unhealthy coping techniques
- Lack of flexibility
- High levels of distress
- Low levels of family cohesiveness, agreement, and expressiveness
No two families experience the exact same dynamics, but these characteristics are usually shared between families where substance use occurs. Family systems and attachment theory are models that help provide a guide for understanding how substance use disorders impact the entire family.
The Benefits of Family Support in Addiction Recovery
Research has found that family support can help improve an individual’s overall treatment outcomes. (7) Those who are children, spouses, siblings, and parents of individuals who engage in substance use are affected greatly by their loved one’s addiction. Providing that individual with support can improve the overall well being of the substance user and their family members.