The Effects of Drug Abuse on Family and Friends

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Drug abuse is a common problem with uncommonly far-reaching effects. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health, 10% of adults surveyed in the U.S. have a drug use disorder.

That is an astounding 33.1 million people, but the effects of drug abuse on those who surround the user skyrocket the number of people affected by substance use disorder well into the hundreds of millions.

Effects on Family

The effects of drug abuse vary as much from family to family as they do from person to person. The family make-up and dynamic itself is an influencer. It is not unusual for:

  • Family members to blame themselves
  • Kids to become caretakers for both siblings and adults
  • Aging parents to maintain a protective enabling role
  • Loved ones to ignore problems as a defense mechanism

Family members feel a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, and live a daily life of anxiety, fear, concern, guilt, embarrassment, anger, and sometimes resentment.

Effects on Children

A child’s formative years, 0-8 years old, are a time of rapid physical growth, as well as developing intellectually, emotionally, and socially. A household member with a substance use issue can disrupt that development. With substance use issues, proper bonding does not occur, trust is not built, boundaries are not set, and acceptable behavior is not established.

As the child matures, the effects of drug abuse can manifest as:

  • Negativity
  • Inconsistent behavior
  • Denial of feelings and concerns
  • Inappropriate anger management
  • Self-defeating behavior (like the belief they must be perfect)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-medication

Intergenerational Effects

It is not uncommon for substance use disorder to pass from generation to generation. An incorrect and unhealthy concept of what is appropriate behavior is prevalent. As the National Center for Biotechnology Information explains, “Intergenerational effects of substance abuse can have a negative effect on role modeling, trust, and concepts of normative behavior.”

Those living through a substance use disorder, either their own or that of someone close to them, have an increased risk of abuse, divorce, violence, and control issues.

The Effects Beyond Family

The circle of influence of a drug use issue goes beyond the family. Friends can get caught in the crossfire. Neighbors become involved if there are arguments or domestic issues. Co-workers may be concerned for their office-mate or become annoyed because they are always picking up the slack.

Beyond the economic impact of a disorder on a household budget, it is estimated that substance use disorder in the workforce has an annual impact of more than $442 billion.

Reach the Summit

These far-reaching effects of substance abuse can be reined in. It just takes one connection. Contact Summit Malibu today by phone or fill out our online form to find out more about treatment services for yourself, your loved one, and, ultimately, your community.