How a parent with a drug or alcohol problem affects the whole family It is well known that a parent with a drug or alcohol problem can have a negative effect on their family members. You could say that the person with the problem is like someone stuck in a bog. The other family members, in their efforts to help, often get pulled down into the bog too. The first step in putting things right is when the others start to get their own feet on solid ground. Only after they have done this will they be able to help tackle the addiction problem. How a partner with a drug or alcohol problem affects the other partner It is not easy to live with a person whose drinking or drug use is causing problems. The drinker or drug user is often full of conflict, torn between wanting their drug or alcohol and not wanting the harm that always seems to follow. They often blame others when things go wrong.
The partner or spouse of the addict or alcoholic often doubts himself or herself: Am I not a good enough partner? How can I get them to stop taking that drug? How can I protect my children? How can I hide this from my family and neighbors? The partner often feels hurt, ashamed, afraid, and has an overwhelming sense of failure. Unfortunately, many partners then work even harder to ‘fix’ the situation, taking on extra responsibilities, trying to cover up the mess… fighting a losing battle. If you are that partner, the first step towards putting things right is to take some time for yourself, and get the support you need. A good friend or a counselor can be a great help. How a parent’s addiction may affect their son or daughter
The son or daughter of a parent abusing alcohol or drugs can also end up bogged down. They often adopt a role which helps the family, but they may get stuck in the role and neglect their own needs.
The Family Hero
This is often the eldest in the family. This person is responsible, works hard for approval, and often appears successful. But inside, this person often feels insecure, as if things are always going to go wrong, and feels incompetent, confused and angry.
This person feels blamed when things go wrong. Everyone focuses on this person’s faults, which provides the family with a distraction from the real problem. So this person often seems rebellious, troublesome, law breaking, tough… and may be at risk of abusing drugs themselves. Inside, this person is often full of fear, hurt, rejection and loneliness, feeling angry at the unfairness of how they are treated.
The Lost Child
This son or daughter appears as a dreamer, drifting above the troubled waters that bother other people. But inside, the person is not as contented as they appear. They are quietly hurt, angry, lonely, with a feeling of being inadequate.
Sometimes also referred to as the clown, the person in this role is often charming and cute, fun to be with, quick to make a joke. Sometimes they are quite hyperactive and flip from one interest to another sometimes quite fragile and easily hurt. But they are good at hiding the hurt, and other feelings of loneliness, insecurity, fear and low self-esteem. If you recognize any of these roles as being ‘you’, the first step to putting things right is to take time for yourself, to talk to a friend or a counselor. Stop thinking about the addicted person for a while (easier said than done!) and pay attention to your own real needs. How a son or daughter with an addiction affects the whole family Whole families can seem to go to pieces when there is a son or daughter using drugs or alcohol.
Parents fall out with each other over how to handle the situation, while other sons or daughters can get blamed for being a bad example. The drug user gets so much attention that others are neglected. Rows and bad language upset the peace. If peace and love are the oxygen of life, then the whole family is gasping for breath. In an airplane, if the oxygen masks are released, parents are supposed to put on their own masks before attending to their children’s masks. The same is true here. You must look after your own needs before helping the one causing the problem. Even if you are the only person in the family who recognizes the alcohol or drug problem, it is worthwhile getting support for yourself, from a friend or a trusted teacher or a counselor.
So as you can see from reading the above an addiction is not exclusively set on the user. With addiction comes pain and hurt not only for the user, but also for all the others around them. Most addicts do not notice the cause and effect it has on all the others that surround them. When the addict truly begins to sober up is when they really notice the destruction they have caused during their addiction. The effects of an addiction are so greatly underrated by ones who do not have to deal with it, upon careful evaluation most people would be surprised how greatly a user can have on a whole family.