If you have a family member who suffers from mental health problems and addiction, you feel helpless and want to support them in any way. Giving them money is not an option, and you might not be able to influence them to seek professional help. If you do, you will have to supervise them, and provide compassionate care. The cost of addiction is immeasurable, and alcoholism or drug use is responsible for millions of broken family relationships. Find out how it affects family members below.
1. Financial Strain
When you discover that your family member has an addiction problem or mental health issue, you will need to fund their recovery. You might take them to private therapy, which will cost a fortune. If their problem is more serious, you will have to take them to rehabilitation centres. If they have a long term addiction, you will need to look for co-occurring disorders treatment solutions. The residential therapy will try to deal with the root cause of the problem, instead of beating the physical symptoms of the addiction. If your insurance doesn’t cover this treatment, you will end up paying thousands out of pocket.
2. Having to Lie
While your partner or sibling is going through a bad phase, you might need to lie for them. You don’t want to announce to your friends that your loved one cannot turn up for dinner because they look too bad, or are too drunk. Instead of being humiliated by them, you choose to find excuses. This type of behaviour can be dangerous, as the more you cover for them the guiltier they will feel and the deeper they will sink into their addiction.
3. Loss of Job and Motivation
Addicted people hardly care about anything but their substances. This means they will lose interest in their career, and have issues at work. They will neglect their jobs at home, as well as at the workplace. You will have to wait with renovation and fixing household items, as you are not able to rely on them. It is almost impossible to set common goals with an addicted person, and this makes it almost impossible to live with one.
4. Compromised Relationships
Negative behaviour, irritable mood, and change of habits can cause a breakdown in addicted persons’ personalities. If you have a family member with an alcohol, gambling, or drug addiction, it will be very hard to connect with them on a personal level. They will not engage in conversation, and want to be left alone most of the time. They will close the door to the outside world, and it will be very hard to open it again without professional help.
5. Being Labelled as a Family
The worst impact on the family is being judged by the individual’s behaviour. Children might be bullied at school because their parents are alcoholics or drug addicts. They will be labelled as children of addicts, and not based on their individual values and qualities. This will have a long term negative impact on their development and socialisation. Likewise, spouses will feel ashamed for being associated with an addict and try to hide the problem, if they cannot solve it.
6. Spiralling Debt
People who have an addiction will prioritise getting their supplies, and neglect paying their bills. If your partner has their own account, you might not know about their debt until it has already spiralled out of control. The family budget will be affected, and your credit rating will be compromised. Addicts are not very organised, and they jeopardise family finances for a quick fix.
7. Neglected Children
Every mental health issue, including addiction has a great impact on children. When you are depressed, disoriented, or unorganised, you will not be able to look after children. If your partner suffers from addiction, you cannot hide their behaviour from the children. They will notice the changes, and will find it difficult to connect with the new person their parent became. They will become confused and might develop certain mental health issues or behavioural issues themselves.
8. Loss of a Hero
Children need a role model to look up to. An addict is the worst example of a hero, and children will go through a crisis because they will lose their personal hero. They will no longer be able to be proud of the person, and look for other, more impressive role models. If this works out OK, they might choose to better themselves, but many of them become depressed and develop mental health disorders.
9. Health Problems
Addiction to drugs and alcohol takes its toll on one’s health. People age earlier and their mental abilities can deteriorate. Some drugs cause short term memory loss, as well as other illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, liver and kidney problems, and so on. Drug users will be more prone to infections that they can pass on to family members. An addict in the family carrying Hepatitis can damage the health of the entire family. Compromising one’s health because of addiction can have a long term health consequence.
10. Younger Family Members Following the Example of the Addict
Delivering the wrong messages and examples can have long term impact on younger family members’ lives. Your addicted relative might be managing their illness fine, and pretend that there is nothing wrong with their substance use. Children are likely to copy the behaviour of people they respect, and they might believe that there are no dangers of drinking alcohol and using drugs regularly. If you want to help them develop their own values and make an informed decision, it is your task to sit down with them and discuss the risks and dangers of addiction.
Having an addict in the family can have long term and short term negative impact on individuals. It is not only the person who suffers the consequences of the addiction, but everyone else they are connected with. Family budgets will get out of control, children will miss their parents, relationships will be compromised, and the person’s health related issues will have a great impact on daily routines. Make sure you spot the early signs and seek professional life before the impact on the family becomes irreversible.
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