Addiction does not just impact the user, either. When nearly half of all Americans have a close friend or family member with a substance abuse disorder, it s easy to wonder how addiction affects families. Substance abuse disorders and alcoholism impact more than 20 million Americans annually. Addiction is a chronic condition that does not discriminate.
Since anyone, regardless of age, gender, or race, can develop a substance abuse disorder, even recreational use can lead to an addiction. Drugs and alcohol are neurotransmitter inhibitors that cause your brain to release a powerful rush of pleasurable neurotransmitters. This ultimately leads to alterations to your pleasure and reward center.
How Addiction Affects Families
Understanding how addiction affects families requires that you know how substance abuse disorders progress. All psychoactive substances carry the risk of addiction, although only certain ones can cause physical dependency. Addiction causes significant changes to your brain chemistry and creates a massive neurotransmitter imbalance. These alterations impair your judgment, lower your inhibitions, and change your mood.
During addiction, you can have a strong desire to quit but still struggle to stop or limit your substance use. As your tolerance builds, you have to continually use more in order to feel the same positive effects. When you need to increase your use regularly, it can cause financial problems as you prioritize your substance use ahead of paying bills.
How addiction affects families is that it can cause increased conflicts in your marriage or familial relationships. These conflicts are why treatment regularly involves family and marital counseling. Addiction can also impact family members when you experience or legal problems because of your substance abuse. The instability addiction causes can create trust issues with loved ones, especially if you are trying to maintain relationships with your family while struggling with your drug use.
When you are suffering from addiction, your brain associates people, places, things, and your substance of choice with pleasure. Because of this association, you deal with powerful cravings whenever you are exposed to specific triggers. These triggers can make it difficult to quit using without help. Common triggers include:
- Places you associate with drugs
The earlier you begin to treat your addiction, the more likely you are to maintain long-term abstinence and sobriety.
When examining how addiction affects families, it is essential to engage in programs like family therapy during treatment. Both inpatient and outpatient programs offer family counseling, which can help restore your relationship with loved ones. Another benefit of substance abuse treatment is that it can assist family members in constructing healthy boundaries.
Finding Help Today
If your loved one is battling a substance abuse disorder, you may worry about how addiction affects families. Addiction can damage relationships between loved ones, which is why completing treatment and family therapy program is an essential part of recovery. To find out more about our substance abuse and family therapy programs, reach out to us today at 855.786.1978. Get the help that your loved one needs today.
Licensed Physician and Surgeon
Dr. Beth Dunlap, a board-certified addiction medicine and family medicine physician, and is the medical director at Northern Illinois Recovery Center. She is responsible for overseeing all the integrated medical services at both campuses. Beth completed medical school, residency, and fellowship at Northwestern University, where she continues to serve on the faculty as a member of the Department of Family and Community Medicine. She has extensive experience in addiction medicine at all levels of care, and her clinical interests include integrated primary care and addiction medicine, harm reduction, and medication-assisted treatment.