It is common for people with addictions to become so self-absorbed with their problem that they forget their behavior is not only hurting them but also those closest to them. Everyone is affected by a person with an addiction whether they are aware of it or not. An alcoholic or drug addict begins to change and their self-destructive actions bring their friends and family down the path that they have chosen as well. If you are struggling with an addiction it will help to understand how much your actions affect others and that you are not isolated but are connected to people who are concerned about your well-being.
Guilty Feelings and Worry
When your family and friends realize that you have a problem they may not know what to do or think. Your parents may begin to feel guilty wondering where they went wrong and why you ended up down the road of alcohol and drug abuse. They could begin to blame themselves and feel as though they haven’t given enough attention or love. Your family might not feel comfortable confronting you about these feelings but they could be dealing with a lot of guilt and worry. Even friends might be concerned about what could happen to you if you continue with your addictive behavior.
Family and Friends Become Enablers
Sometimes when a person in the family suffers from an addiction, the people around them take on the role of ‘enablers’ whether they mean to or not. Enablers might ignore the problem or allow it to continue by keeping it under wraps. Family members that clean up and take care of the addict after a binge are excusing and enabling their behavior. Friends could enable the addict by supplying them with substances or being their “drinking buddy”. The people in your family might not want you to continue your abuse but they become a part of the cycle and are not able to stop being a contribution to your drug addiction.
Mood and Erratic Behavior
The longer someone is addicted to alcohol or drugs the more their actions begin to change and become unpredictable. Addicts can have violent mood swings that affect the people around them the most. The deeper they get into addiction the more they might lie, steal or hide the things that they do even from those closest to them. If you are an addict you might not even recall many of the things that you have said and done but it still causes significant damages to your relationships.
Broken Trust and Separation
Because many addicts begin to lie and hide their behavior from family and friends they start to lose the trust of everyone around them. For an addict in a relationship, their significant other can begin to find it hard to believe anything that they say. Because of these trust problems and all the other negative actions, a separation or divorce can occur if the addict does not change their ways an attend rehab treatment. Friends and family may also begin to distance themselves from an addict because of their actions leaving them more isolated.
Emotional Trauma for Young Children
When an adult in the family, either a parent or an older sibling has an addiction it can be especially hard on the youngest children. Growing up in an environment of abuse can affect a child’s development and even lead to emotional trauma especially if there is violence in the home. Children are impressionable and seeing people around them abuse alcohol or drugs can have a lifelong effect on them. Of all the people affected by addiction, the children in the home are the ones that must deal with the effects years down the road even after an addict has recovered.
Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.