We are fortunate to be living in a time in which substance abuse and addiction no longer carry quite the taboo they once did. Families, individuals, workplaces, and medical providers recognize the need to be honest and open about the very-common struggle of addiction in the United States.
Almost 20 million Americans age 12 and older experience substance abuse. So those affected must know how and where to find help when needed. And this includes family members who are living through a loved one’s addiction struggles. At Fair Park Counseling, we strive to treat not only the person battling substance abuse but also their family as a whole. Let’s take a look at the ways substance abuse and addiction affect families.
How Substance Abuse and Addiction Affect Families
We recognize that addiction impacts every part of a person’s life and that most often, the family takes the biggest hit of all. Here are three ways that substance abuse can bring trauma to a family.
1. Substance Abuse and Addiction damage trust within a marriage or partnership.
One of the core pieces of any substance abuse struggle is a component of denial and fear. The person experiencing addiction most often denies that they have a problem that requires help. But at the same time, they fear that those close to them will see how genuinely damaging their substance abuse issues are and demand that they stop.
This combination of denial and fear often leads the person to become sneaky. They may get a separate bank account, so their spouse doesn’t see how much money they are spending. They might lie about work schedules or events to cover up how often they stop at a bar on the way home. They may engage in risky behaviors to maintain their habit, putting their partner or spouse at financial or physical risk.
Understandably, when these habits come to light, the partner is hurt, angry, scared, and betrayed. They may start asking a lot of questions and demanding to know every detail of their partner’s schedule, building resentment and anger on both sides.
Even once the person battling addiction seeks treatment, the mistrust can remain for a very long time. Their spouse or partner may need months or even years to get back to a place of confidence in the relationship. This lack of trust is completely normal in these situations, but it still creates tremendous strain, even in recovery.
At Fair Park Counseling, we recognize the importance and benefits of offering whole-family counseling. We understand that addiction and any underlying mental health difficulties do not only impact the patient. The entire family structure needs and deserves support and guidance during this time. Whether the person experiencing addiction is willing to seek help or not, the family certainly can do so.
2. Substance Abuse and Addiction create fear and anger in children living in the home.
No matter how stealthy or discreet a person with addiction issues thinks they are, signs always bubble to the surface for everyone in the home to see and experience. While adult spouses and partners may be able to seek help and answers and have an understanding of what substance abuse is, children cannot.
Children take what they see at face value and interpret that information in a way that fits their age and scope of experience. So when they hear and see their parents fighting, it feels scary, and they react accordingly. They often withdraw both physically and emotionally when living with continual tension and arguing in the home.
When a parent doesn’t show up at a special school event because they aren’t sober enough to do so, the child feels disappointment and betrayal. And they may put the parent’s failure to show up on themselves, thinking it is their fault that Mom or Dad didn’t come.
Children living in homes touched by addiction may adopt the habit of lying to others. They are not trying to be deceitful, but want to protect their family’s privacy and their own dignity. They can become very adept at creating excuses for the family member that is battling substance abuse.
Counseling for the child and the whole family can give them accurate information about addiction and what is happening with their loved one. Offering a child truthful answers to their questions can help remove the shame and guilt and anger they are feeling. Assuring children that they have the right to ask for help and to ask questions gives them a sense of power that can help overcome the fear. The Fair Park counselors can walk with your family on this journey.
3. Substance Abuse and Addiction create financial hardships.
Regardless of a person’s income, addiction impacts their finances. From running up credit card bills to extreme cases of theft to support a habit, substance abuse takes a tremendous toll on the financial life of a family.
Addiction is particularly costly to those already living in poverty since there is no wiggle room in the budget. Individuals battling substance abuse may use their grocery money for alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs, leaving their families to go hungry. They may leave their spouse with no money to pay for the children’s medical needs, creating further problems for the entire family.
But even in wealthy families, the cost of addiction can be debilitating. Aside from the money spent purchasing drugs or alcohol, someone living with substance abuse may end up with any or all of the following:
- High credit card bills that they cannot pay
- Legal fees if they resort to criminal activity to sustain their habit
- Medical costs to treat the physical and mental effects of addiction
- Loss of income due to the inability to work or termination of their job
- Loss of their home if they can’t make their mortgage or rent payments
The financial burden of addiction is very real and immense. But fortunately, treatment can bring healing and restore balance to a family’s financial life. Every dollar spent on treatment for addiction saves $11 in law enforcement and health care costs. It is well worth the investment, and Fair Park Counseling is here to assist in this journey.
Help Is Right Here
If you are ready to seek and receive treatment for your substance abuse and addiction issues, we are eager to help. Or if you are a family member needing support as you live with someone experiencing addiction, give us a call.
The Fair Park team is full of experience, expertise, and compassion. We are here to work with you and your family so that you can live with healing and hope instead of fear and anger. Reach out today to get started on the road to wellness.
Fair Park Counseling offers a Top Rated Outpatient Substance Abuse Program in Tupelo, MS which is endorsed by the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Learn about the Benefits of Outpatient Therapy for you and your family.