The Impact of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence on the Family

Our Nation’s #1 health problem is alcoholism and drug dependence.  For decades, we have seen how the disease of addiction not only affects the individual, but millions of family members.

Fathers, mothers, single parents, couples straight or gay, regardless of ethnicity or social group, rich or poor….drug and alcohol abuse can destroy relationships.  Most of all, young children and adolescents suffer the greatest from the effects of the abuse of alcohol and drugs in the family.

Addiction has an effect on every individual who is close to the one abusing drugs or alcohol. Families are often the ones who suffer most when a relative is in active addiction. In the early stages the family may begin to blame themselves for what’s going on. They may start to believe they are one of the factors that perpetuate the drug use. They may even think they are the sole reason for what is happening with the addict in their life.

The communication beings to breakdown and can separate family members who were once a tight knit group. The family begins to take different sides instead of uniting in order to help the one suffering. In some situations families may feel shame or embarrassed about having an addict in their family. They may begin avoiding certain situations and isolating for fear of embarrassment. This is a clear indicator of how the disease of addiction can spread itself to the ones you love. Many think that the disease only lies within the individual suffering from it, but it has been shown over and over again to be a family disease.


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