How Does Substance-Abuse Affect Families?

Updated on November 26, 2021

Unhealthy addictions or dependency is one of the most extensive rift creators in homes today. Family members who have a person with serious substance addiction can easily drift apart, give themselves the cold shoulder, and deliberately or subconsciously take actions that break bonds that have lasted for years.

In some cases, the results and tolls on a family due to having an addict can be light, while others are very significant. However, the bottom line is that addicts who have direct relationships with their loved ones will undoubtedly have effects on their lives. 

Individuals with dependency generally do not have control or the necessary willpower to abstain from their addictions despite having adequate knowledge of their damage.


All forms of dependencies pose serious problems, and the best way to handle them is not to ever use them such that you see them as a necessary routine. However, this is precisely where the major problem is; knowing when a routine intake becomes an addiction and a problem.

How It Becomes a Problem

Generally, when alcohol or recreational drugs dependency starts, it is always not so much of a big deal. It is usually not seen as a problem, and for men and women, it is just about taking that one extra bottle and spending a little more time on some pills. And slowly but surely, the dependency and urge become a daily part of once sober lives.

Relations may generally not know when a person starts a journey of drug addiction. Generally, when the secret dependency becomes public, they get to know and try something about it. Essay topics about substance abuse by Studydriver show that households almost always find out about a loved one dependency when it is almost already too late.

Unfortunately, an unchecked dependency can have a series of adverse effects on an entire family, and the major ones include the following:

Gradual Loss of Trust

While quickly identifying and offering addiction treatment to a loved one can go a long way to help them recover, the truth is that most persons will rather conceal their dependencies due to a lot of reasons. It could be a shame for dependent parents to show their kids that they lack the willpower to overcome addiction. The case is also reversed when children or a child is the addict.

However, the issue with these decisions is that when they become exposed, a family member or several loved ones may not handle them well and feel like their trust is being betrayed. They may interpret the decision of the dependent individual to keep away from telling the truth as being dishonest and, as such, make a very tricky situation worse.

The trust issue could also be taken to another level when it is an elderly individual struggling and there is a younger child in the household. Due to potential family addiction, some other members may limit interactions with the person.

However, while the action of limited interaction could have been done in good faith to tackle the Addicted family syndrome and not as a lack of trust, the dependent individual may interpret such actions as deliberate separation.   

Gradual loss of trust from individuals with dependencies and their loved ones is a rough start to how families can be affected negatively.

Poor Judgment and Lack of Empathy

Dependency disorder could quickly strain an individual’s mental health and make them act towards loved ones without empathy. Addiction affects the brain, and it has also been linked with causing poor judgment. This means a dependent could work more irritatingly without much concern for people’s feelings. Kids may irritate parents as they openly abuse substances and trigger emotions that could cause serious confrontations.

This consequence causes an increased risk in bond severing and is a forerunner for more significant issues.


Other ways addiction severe bonds are via separation. With higher toxicity and continuous confrontations, the individual with the drug abuse dependency may experience a more enormous strain than others and draw away from the family unit. They could abandon school, the home, and even work.

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Some may decide to end contact with their entire household and seek freedom to act as they want. However, this is a risky stage, and individuals at this stage abuse drugs without restraint and may end up with their survival on the line. If a parent has dependency syndrome, children may never get to see them, and the same happens for a dependent child, children or siblings.

Breaking Out of an Addiction

Despite the difficulty of quitting opioids, alcohol, and other unhealthy dependencies, it is possible. All that is needed is the severe input of all parties involved. A significant cause of persistent dependence is that there is no real commitment to stop it. 

If half the seriousness put into the 2020 Covid-19 peak period by households were also directed for helping a loved one recover, then a severe impact would be made. After all, abuse, just like the pandemic destroy family relationship as well.The first step that a person or loved ones can take is to reach out for professional health services to determine how much effect the irregular unhealthy intake could have caused.

After this getting a loved one into a support group or drug rehab is a significant step in helping them in recovery. The great thing about these organizations is that they provide the avenue for addicts to share their problems and not get judged for them. Also, these therapy locations are incredibly impactful and one of the best places to get help and find professionals who genuinely care.


People generally attach a stigma to individuals with dependencies, which is also very existent among relations and loved ones. While it is wrong for such stigma, the fact is that it does exist, and unfortunately, it goes a long way in worsening the victim’s quality of life. Thankfully some households handle the situation of a loved one with a dependency better. They ask questions on the best natural treatment and also volunteer to help their loved ones bounce back.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.