THE EFFECTS OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE ON FRIENDS AND FAMILY
The path of addiction is tough and all-too-often traveled one. The effects of substance abuse on friends and family can cause long-term and inter-generational problems which become more apparent around the holidays. Addiction in the family makes for an incredibly volatile environment that doesn’t allow for any kind of relationship to grow and prosper. How does substance abuse affect friends and family? Here are some characteristics that are almost always present in the relationships of the addicted.
Usually one of the first telling characteristics of a toxic relationship with an addicted loved one is co-dependency. It is also one of the most overlooked. Co-dependency is when one person in the relationship continuously puts their partners’ or loved one’s’ needs before their own. Sounds kind of romantic, right? Wrong. Often dismissed as neediness, co-dependency can cause both parties to have zero regards for self-sufficiency or autonomy. Your loved one will get so used to you bending to their needs that they won’t know how to function without you or you without them. Which only further enables them in their destructive behavior.
As your loved one’s addiction progresses, you will find yourself adapting your behavior to accommodate them. You may become obsessed with them and their behavior, emotionally giving all you have left in you so that there will be nothing left for you or the rest of your family. This is the point where you might turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like participating in an alcohol or drug use yourself or other behavior that is very uncharacteristic. The truth is that addiction is a family problem that needs to be worked through together and is vital for long-term recovery.
Living with an addicted loved one can cause many conflicting emotions; anger, anxiety, shame, guilt. All of which doesn’t make for a positive or loving environment. As mentioned above these types of emotions will become overwhelming and will begin to affect the family and household dynamic. If you find yourself dreading spending time at home or if your children or other family members spend as little time as possible in the house, this is a huge sign.
You and your loved ones’ destructive co-dependent behavior can lead you through a plethora of emotions that will eventually become intoxicating. These are emotions that eventually get so entangled and complicated that you end up feeling emotionally exhausted, thus making you perpetually less emotionally available to those around you. These feelings are usually referred to as intoxicant emotions and they tend to throw off the family dynamic to the point that you and your family will be unable to function healthily.