The Effects of Addiction on Family and Friends
November 19, 2008 by Drug Addiction
Addiction affects people of all ages and backgrounds. And unfortunately, it affects the addict’s family and friends, too.
Addiction may affect each family member or friend differently. Children of an addict may feel guilty and responsible for the problem, or at the very least, may feel different from their peers. These children often experience depression and low self-esteem. Many of them attempt to deflect attention from the addiction by either acting too perfect (such as obsessing over impeccable grades) or by acting out with behaviors such as lying, stealing, fighting, or truancy.
Friends of an addict may become hurt or angry as the addicted person turns away from them to seek friends with similar patterns of using, or isolates himself from previous interests and activities. Friends may also deny that there is a problem, joining the addict in binge drinking, encouraging her to use drugs, or making excuses to a boss, teacher, or other friends.
An addict’s spouse tends to become more preoccupied with the problems of the user than with her own health and well-being. The spouse very often denies her own interests, hobbies, and friends in order to focus on the ill person. Much time and effort is spent trying to keep things under control by protecting the addict from the consequences of abusing substances. A wife may hide alcohol from her addicted husband or call in sick when he is under the influence or hung over. A husband may offer unwanted advice or try to solve problems himself. Spouses frequently deny that the problem is serious, justifying it by convincing themselves things aren’t that bad – everyone has problems of one sort or another. Ultimately, the spouse may suffer from low self-esteem, anger, and depression.
When an addiction first begins, it’s normal for friends and family to rationalize the dependency and protect the dependent person. But over time, this behavior can negatively affect everyone involved. Family members, and even close friends, of an addict may need treatment in order to begin to improve their own lives.