addiction and its effects on family

How Addiction Affects Family in California’s Central Valley

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction to drugs and alcohol, then you know very well that substance abuse has far-ranging consequences. Unfortunately, the most dramatic and heartbreaking effects are often seen within the family.

For spouses and partners, drug and alcohol addiction can generate resentment, create financial strife, and lead to divorce. It can deprive children of their chance for an ordinary and supportive childhood. And it can even perpetuate a generational cycle of drug and alcohol abuse in adolescents and teens.

If you are struggling with the decision to seek treatment for an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it’s important to realize that getting help can make all the difference for your family — and it’s never too late.

Children Suffer in Family Homes with Drug & Alcohol Addiction

It’s estimated that 26.8 million American children are exposed to alcohol addiction in their families. In all, 1 in 8 children (17 and younger) live with a parent who has a substance abuse disorder. Living with a parent who struggles with drug or alcohol addiction can have many negative impacts on a child:

  • Lower socioeconomic status and limited resources
  • Struggles with socialization and academics in school
  • Possible exposure to neglect and abuse
  • Emotional issues
  • Low self-esteem
  • Risk of depression and anxiety

Children deserve to be raised in a secure and supportive household that meets their emotional, social, and developmental needs. When one or both parents struggle with addiction to drugs and alcohol, it creates an unstable environment for children. They might not feel safe in their own homes, and in some cases may even blame themselves for their parents’ addictions.

In many families, children take on certain roles to support their parents. For example, some children — usually the eldest — will become the family “hero” who feels like they need to fix the family’s problems. Meanwhile, they often suffer from feelings of defeat and worthlessness. Others might take on the role of the “mascot,” using humor to deflect the seriousness of the parents’ addiction.

No child should have to take on these roles. By seeking treatment, parents with addiction can re-establish a safe and supportive home environment that enables their children to flourish.

Drug or Alcohol Addiction can Lead to Marital Issues & Divorce

Drug and alcohol abuse places a huge amount of strain on marital relationships. In fact, one large study from the University at Buffalo Research Centers of Addiction found that divorce is significantly more likely in a marriage when one person is a heavy drinker. Nearly half of the couples in the study with a heavy-drinking partner wound up divorced.

Partners of those with alcohol or drug abuse disorders may feel stressed, anxious, or depressed. They may wind of shouldering much of the responsibility of finances, childcare, and housework. And in some cases, they may live in fear of domestic abuse.

If both partners in a marriage abuse drugs or alcohol, it may not impact their divorce rate. However, these individuals may be enabling one another to perpetuate unhealthy and toxic lifestyles. In these cases, it’s crucial that both partners seek treatment so that they can embark on the journey of healing together.

Generations of Abuse: The Cycle of Addiction in the Family

In addition to substance abuse creating an unsafe environment for little ones, being raised in a household with adults with substance abuse disorder can perpetuate a cruel cycle of abuse through the generations. When children see their parents doing drugs and abusing alcohol, they’re more likely to experiment themselves. With greater access to drugs and alcohol in the household, it’s easier for the kid to get started. And the statistics are striking: kids who grow up in households where adults abuse drugs or alcohol are twice as likely to develop addictions themselves.

Underage drinking is surprisingly common. In the U.S. 33% of kids have tried alcohol by age 15, and 60% have tried it by the time they turn 18. When it comes to drug use, a study from the National Institute for Drug Abuse found that 40% of 12th graders have use drugs within the past year.

In addition to potentially setting up a lifetime struggle with addiction, this has serious consequences for adolescents’ brains and development. Alcohol usage in teens has been shown to have a significant negative effect on memory and learning, and predisposes teens towards violent behavior and reckless activities like drunk driving. It’s crucial to set a good example to children, adolescents, and teens by seeking professional help.

It’s Never Too Late to Seek Addiction Treatment in Fresno CA

When you struggle with drugs and alcohol, your family and close friends struggle too.

Fortunately, it’s never too late to start your journey towards sobriety. By seeking treatment, you’re not only beginning on the road towards healing — but you’re also creating a brighter future for your family, partner, and children.

At First Steps Recovery, we’re dedicated to helping people in Fresno, CA, and the surrounding areas get help for drug and/or alcohol addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today about our compassionate treatment and recovery services.

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