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Addiction’s Impact on Family

Mar 2, 2020

A family member living with addiction can seem like a threat to everyone else in the home every single day. The choices of the person abusing drugs or alcohol create consequences for children and adults, and the damage done to the family can be significant. Today let’s look at some of the critical areas of the impact of addiction on a whole family, whether it’s a parent or a teen who’s in need of recovery.

Addiction in any member of a family becomes a factor in every relationship within the family. A parent’s addiction can have short-term and long-term effects on both spouse and children in the form of loss of trust, neglect, emotional turmoil, and more, while a teen’s addiction can also cause harm to both parent and sibling relationships over theft of money, legal costs after arrests, and parent conflict over how to respond to the addiction. While the impact within each family may differ, seeking professional treatment quickly can reduce the risk of more severe and longer-lasting effects of drug and alcohol addiction on loved ones.

Addiction in a Parent

A parent’s addiction to any substance—alcohol, opiates, cocaine, etc.—will have an impact on the family, whether the effects are visible or not. They include consequences touching every part of the family’s existence, from its communication to its financial stability and more. The sooner a parent with a drug or alcohol addiction can begin treatment, the lesser the impact of these effects, of course.

How Addiction Affects Your Children

Let’s separate the kinds of damage done to children by a parent with addiction. Some effects are visible and obvious, while others may go unseen for years. So, we’ll start with a sample of the short-term effects and move on to some of the long-term effects.

Short-Term Effects of Addiction on Children
  • Conflict within family, arguments
  • Risk of attending children’s sports and school events under the influence
  • Unpaid family bills creates instability
  • Responsibilities neglected, such as buying groceries
Long-Term Effects of Addiction on Children
  • Children developing codependent behaviors
  • Loss of children’s trust
  • Developing feelings of guilt over parent’s addiction
  • Strained communication or no communication with children
  • Inability to pay for children’s education or even cover basic needs
  • Increased risk of developing SUDs of their own later in life
  • Not allowed to see parent due to loss of custody, incarceration, etc.

How Addiction Affects Your Marriage

Like the impact of addiction on your children, damage to a relationship with a spouse or partner can be seen in short-term and long-term effects.

Short-Term Effects of Addiction on Marriage
  • Frequent arguments over drug/alcohol misuse
  • Responsibilities to spouse/partner begin to be neglected
  • Less quality time spent with spouse/partner
Long-Term Effects of Addiction on Marriage
  • Loss of intimacy
  • Loss of spouse’s trust
  • Developing feelings of guilt over spouse’s addiction
  • Spouse developing codependent behaviors
  • Inability to contribute to family financial needs
  • Separation or divorce

Addiction in a Teen

A teen addicted to alcohol or drugs, including marijuana, can have a ripple effect through family members whose lives are touched by the addiction, too.

Short-Term Effects of Teen Addiction on Family
  • Theft of money, valuables from family members to support drug/alcohol use
  • Family arguments over drug/alcohol use
  • Parent conflict over response strategies
  • Theft of medications belonging to family members
Long-Term Effects of Teen Addiction on Family
  • Loss of family’s trust
  • Disconnection from family
  • Legal costs from arrests

How Addiction Affects Extended Family

Addiction in a parent or teen can have an impact on relationships with extended family members, such as aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, as the behaviors associated with addiction may get hidden or masked.

Short-Term Effects of Addiction on Extended Family
  • Missing at family events
  • Less communication with extended family
  • Theft of medications and valuables from extended family
Long-Term Effects of Addiction on Extended Family
  • Breakdown in relationships with extended family due to addiction secrecy
  • Loss of extended family’s trust
  • Disconnection from extended family

When you recognize a problem with addiction in the family, finding treatment quickly is strongly recommended. Beginning a treatment program sooner may help minimize the damage to family relationships, from those within the home to extended family members. Protecting these family relationships earlier is especially important as loved ones can be a vital source of support through a treatment program and beyond when continuing care is needed.


Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 866-875-1558.

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