How do drugs and alcohol affect the relationship between members of the family?

Jul 19, 2022

A substance abuser does not exist in a vacuum – they may have a spouse, children, parents, brothers, or sisters, just to name a few. When the user experiences the negative effects of drug or alcohol abuse, these important relationships can rapidly degenerate. Our knowledgeable readers weighed in below on exactly how family ties strain, and sometimes break, when substance abuse takes over a loved one.

Edith Matos

Edith Matos

Edith Matos, Hotline Director at Drug Helpline.

Loved Ones Left Angry, Frustrated, and Helpless

Addiction can affect a drug and alcohol addict’s loved ones in several ways. It can cause them to feel angry, frustrated, and helpless. They may also feel like they are walking on eggshells around the addict, trying not to say anything that will upset them. As the addict’s loved ones, you may feel like you are constantly on edge, waiting for the next relapse or outburst.

When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, their loved ones often become their victims. Addiction can possibly lead to violence, verbal abuse, and emotional neglect. It can also cause the addicted to become isolated and withdrawn from their loved ones.

Addiction can be a very difficult problem to overcome, but with the help of a qualified therapist or support group, it is possible. The most important thing for loved ones is to remain supportive and understanding. Addiction is a disease that affects not only the addict but also everyone close to them.

Family Members Feel Neglected

A drug or alcohol addiction will often affect relationships. It can take a toll on family relationships in many ways. One of the diagnostic criteria for a drug or alcohol addiction is that the person spends most of their day either thinking about using or using the substance in question. This impacts their relationships with family, their spouse, significant others, and children.

The family members may feel that their loved one cares more about the drug in question than them. Drug use can cause legal, financial, and other issues – all of which also affect, not only the person with the addiction but the person’s family, as well.

Emily Mendez

Emily Mendez

Emily Mendez, M.S., Ed.S., Public Relations at The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center.
Francisco Gonzalez

Francisco Gonzalez

Francisco Gonzalez from Francisco Gonzalez, Inc.

Substance User Becomes Emotionally Abusive

Drugs and alcohol have a detrimental effect on family members. Alcoholics and addicts can be described as tornados. They frequently focus only on getting their next “fix,” that they are willing to ravage through anything and anyone that they perceive to be standing in their way. Ultimately, the alcoholic becomes emotionally abusive of the love and affections that his/her family members have for him/her.

They learn to use that to their advantage to get the things they want. The non-alcoholic/addict family member so often does not understand that what they are receiving from their alcoholic/addict relative is abuse so they become co-dependent. Alcohol and drugs create dysfunctional family relationships that so often result in resentment and hate.

Drugs and Alcohol Destroy Family Relationships

They destroy relationships with members of the family plain and simple. Addiction to drugs or alcohol will always result in lies being told between family members; this hurts the trust between family members as they become more aware of the addict’s deceit. Most addicts resort to thievery from their family members to fund their drug or alcohol addiction. This just creates further tension between family members. Ultimately, all of these factors – lying, cheating, stealing, and even violence – are a result of drug and alcohol addiction and contribute to hurting the relationship between family members.

Tim Connon

Tim Connon

Tim Connon, Founder of ParamountQuote Insurance Advisors.
Natalie Maximets

Natalie Maximets

Natalie Maximets is a certified life transformation coach and a freelance writer at OnlineDivorce.com.

Addiction Takes a Mental Toll

Whatever type of addiction it is, it is always destructive to not only the addict but also those around them. Dealing with an addict can lead to disputes and arguments between loved ones since it takes a mental toll. Anyone would be depressed if they were constantly afraid of seeing their loved one dying or ending up in a hospital. Furthermore, the continuous need for the addict to ask you for money is frustrating. Because they will spend that money on drinking and drug usage and if you refuse, they may threaten to hurt you.

Can Cause Tension and Conflict Within the Family

Drugs and alcohol can have a devastating effect on family relationships. When people are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may say or do things that they would never do sober. This can cause tension and conflict within the family and can damage relationships permanently.

Drugs and alcohol can also interfere with a person’s ability to function normally within the family unit. People who are drunk or high may be unable to care for their children or perform household tasks. This can add to the stress within the family and further damage relationships.

In extreme cases, drug and alcohol abuse can lead to violence within the family home. This is a very dangerous situation that can result in serious injury or even death.

Morshed Alam

Morshed Alam

Morshed Alam, Founder & Editor at Savvy Programmer.
David Adler

David Adler

David Adler, Founder & CEO of The Travel Secret.

Lack of Communications, Lies, and Physical Abuse

Substance abuse affects the relationship between family members in so many ways. Depending on the severity of the problem is the level of the situation, but emotional, financial, and psychological are some of the ways that may be affected. You may also receive a lack of communication, lies, or physical abuse within the family. The situation can elevate to a dangerous level and even be life-threatening. Professional help can only be provided when that point is reached.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.