Drug abuse ravages the body and mind, and it also gravely impacts the families who must cope with a close member of the family who spends most of the day in an altered or drug-induced state. One of the complexities present in treating an individual with a substance abuse addiction is how the family might influence potential recovery. There is no “one size fits all” approach to treatment, nor is there a single method available to help the family’s plight.
Interestingly, scientists have investigated the impact of substance abuse on different types of families (nuclear, single-parent, etc.), and have come to the conclusion that the type of family composition may weigh heavily on how everyone reacts to a family member’s addiction. The influence of the family can be a positive one upon an individual suffering from an affliction like alcohol addiction, or it can be a type of presence that makes recovery more difficult.
Consequences of Substance Abuse on the Family
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) suggests that there are a number of problems that impact the family having a member addicted to drugs or alcohol. Some of the common problems experienced by families who are dealing with addiction include:
- Financial ruin and job loss
- Legal problems that may include jail and fines
- Health deterioration (temporary and permanent)
- Breakage of the family unit (neglect, divorce, abuse)
Parental Addiction and Children
An eye-opening study conducted in Missouri regarding substance abuse and neglect suggested that up to two-thirds of reports nationwide suggesting a child was being neglected were found to include parental abuse of drugs or alcohol. The number of neglected children in Missouri was even higher, according to that study.
Children who experience a parent who is addicted to drugs will very often place the blame on their own shoulders even though a parent’s drug habit would likely not be caused by anything a child might do. Unfortunately, a child will have a greatly increased chance to form a drug habit on his or her own when a parent has been addicted to drugs and has created problems within the family unit.
Additionally, certain individuals might be more likely to experience addiction. Friends or family should be particularly vigilant if such an individual leads a lifestyle that could lead to drug abuse or might be apt to try illegal substances like methamphetamines or “party drugs” like ecstasy. Some of the risk factors that might mark a person as particularly vulnerable to future addictions include:
- Addiction in the family
- Past use of drugs
- Mental disorders
- Familial abuse or neglect
Recognizing Drug Abuse in Families
Understanding when a family member might be addicted to drugs will assist in getting that individual into some type of treatment before irreparable damage occurs to the addict’s body and mind. Some of the behavioral changes that a family should be on the lookout for if there is the suspicion that an individual might be dealing with a drug problem include the following behaviors:
- Withdrawal from society or family
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Secretive habits
- Unusual risk-taking behaviors
- Fighting and getting into trouble
One of the hallmarks of drug abuse is a sudden change in behavior, such as a significant change in who a teenager might consider his or her friends. A problem with drugs or alcohol might not be apparent immediately, and if a parent isn’t paying attention an addiction could develop. A small amount of experimentation with underage drinking and marijuana may lead to significant problems with hard drugs in the future. Parents must be particularly vigilant if a child has had any history with drug use.
There are also a variety of physical factors, which might act as warning signs that someone has started to experiment with drugs and might be forming an addiction. Illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin impact behavior and the body immediately, and after a short time abusing these and other illicit substances, an addict may present the following signs of drug abuse:
- Clumsiness or reduced coordination
- Lack of appetite and changes in weight
- Bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
Stopping Addiction Before it Starts
Remaining vigilant and communicative within the family unit is one of the most significant ways to catch a drug addiction before it becomes a chronic condition and tears the family apart. Statistics suggest that individuals who use drugs are at high risk for contracting diseases like HIV, and are at an increased risk of death and permanent injury.
Children are some of the biggest victims of a parent’s drug abuse as kids who grow up in a household where a parent has an addiction are four times as likely to develop an addiction of their own when they grow up. Kids may also get into more trouble in school and develop behavioral problems even if they don’t end up turning to drugs on their own. A future of neglect, abandonment, and emotional problems isn’t something any child should have to experience.
Getting More Information
You can obtain more information on substance abuse and addiction by calling A Forever Recovery. One of our representatives can answer your questions and, if necessary, help you create a treatment plan for yourself or a loved one. Addiction recovery begins with just one call to our facility, and we will work hard to ensure the best care possible is provided.