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Is Addiction A Family Disease?

Is Addiction A Family Disease?

Article Contents

Addiction is known as a family disease because simply put, addiction affects the entire family both directly and indirectly. Family members who struggle with a substance use disorder may not realize that their addiction will have repercussions that ripple throughout the whole family.

In fact, some people have a genetic predisposition for substance abuse and drug addiction. Other issues that can contribute to addiction include:

In order to tackle the disease of addiction, it’s important that the whole family comes together to help with your addiction recovery.

How Addiction Affects The Whole Family

Those who struggle with drug abuse or suffer from a substance use disorder may require the help of loved ones in order to receive successful substance abuse treatment. However, family dynamics can constantly change and no family unit is exactly alike.

Altering Moods

Those partaking in drug use or alcohol use may experience sometimes rapid changes in mood. For families, this is a good indication that the family member is suffering from a substance use disorder or mental health disorder.

When the mood of the addicted person fluctuates and they become in distress, it can cause other family members to experience stress and anger as well. When tensions become high, situations can escalate. This can be especially true if the family does not have healthy boundaries.

Healthy Boundaries Shatter

As addiction takes hold of a loved one, they can become detached from the family or do just the opposite, overstaying their welcome. This is when healthy boundaries may break.

Every family is unique and will handle addiction in a different way. Some may become enablers, insisting that the person with the addiction doesn’t need treatment. They may minimize the situation, causing other concerned family members to become irritated.

Without boundaries, many feel the need to target one family member over others, cast blame because of the situation, and bring up past instances of ways they feel they were mistreated.

Families can become too close or too distant when boundaries aren’t put into place. A healthy relationship is a mixture of both.

Environmental Changes​

Those suffering from addiction may inadvertently harm the family system due to their behavior and struggles with codependency. Some addicted persons may receive negative consequences from their addiction such as the loss of a job or the loss of their home.

If this occurs, the person may move back home with their parents. If the addicted person comes from a family suffering from hoarding disorder or substance abuse, this can lead to disaster if the home environment isn’t a safe and peaceful place.

Not only will all family members who live there have to get used to the sudden changes within their home, but healthy boundaries are also immediately in jeopardy. They may choose to stay in isolation at home, causing more anxiety for all who live there.

Mental Health Challenges

Since mental illness can affect multiple members of the family, it’s important to note that difficulties may arise when one family member is attending support groups and therapy sessions while the other family member does not participate.

When this happens, resentment and jealousy can set in. After all, it’s difficult to receive addiction treatment for yourself when you know other family members are also abusing drugs or suffering from a form of addiction.

Family Therapy In Addiction Treatment

Addiction, in many cases, requires some form of family therapy or treatment program. With family therapy, you and your loved ones can openly discuss issues and problems.

This is a great way to focus on your mental health. With therapy, you can learn to manage stress, anxiety, and even better understand each family role in your home.

If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, you can focus on your mental and physical health by starting with a detox program. After detox, you and your family members can participate in a wide range of therapies and treatment services.

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment options are available, and family therapy works as an effective way to heal and grow the entire family unit.

Written by Recovering Champions Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

National Center for Biotechnological Information - Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy
National Library of Medicine - Substance Use Disorder and Heredity: It’s a Family Disease
National Library of Medicine - The Impact of Substance Use Disorders on Families and Children: From Theory to Practice
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Resources for Families Coping with Mental and Substance Use Disorders
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Why Addiction is a Disease and Why it’s Important

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