We often view battling a substance use disorder as a personal experience. But as anyone who has loved someone struggling with substance use will tell you, addiction can take a toll on family members and friends. It is devastating watching someone you care for struggle with addiction.
At Cardinal Recovery, we understand the difficulties those struggling with addiction and their loved ones face. We are located in South Bend, Indiana, but proudly serve patients from across the United States.
Who Is Affected By Substance Use Addiction?
You may ask yourself, “Who is affected by drug & alcohol addiction?” The image you conjure up in your head might be based on stereotypes. You might believe those affected by drug and alcohol addiction are unintelligent and are from low-income backgrounds. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Substance abuse addiction affects people from every walk of life.
If you are struggling with substance use disorder, you know that addiction can wreak havoc on your life. You may know what you are doing to your body is dangerous, but your disease makes it incredibly difficult to refuse drugs or alcohol.
Once your body is familiar with a substance, you might not feel normal without drugs or alcohol in your system. Your behavior can change, and you might feel like a different person. You could be more hostile or struggle with caring for your appearance and personal hygiene and develop a general disregard for those around you. These behaviors can and often do affect the relationship you have with your loved ones.
A loved one may also ask themselves, “How did we get to this point?” The sad truth is sometimes a person’s childhood is to blame for the development of an addiction. When we are young, our brains are so malleable, and environmental factors shape who we will become later on. Children exposed to traumatic events have a greater chance of developing an addiction as an adult, according to a study conducted in 2010. One reason this might happen is that children who live through traumatic experiences often develop coping mechanisms that are less than helpful in adulthood.
For this reason among others, it can become difficult for a parent or sibling to watch their loved one succumb to an addiction. A parent or sibling may feel guilt and blame themselves for the disorder their family member has. Watching someone you care for struggle to cope can leave you wondering whether you could have done something to help them.
However, the reality is that addiction is a disease that is not curable. It is treatable, but an addict will always struggle with substance use disorder. Anything you think you can do to cure your loved one is useless. Instead of blaming yourself for the disorder, it’s important to remember you can’t change the past. However, you can be there for your loved one now. In order to help them, you need to make sure you’re in a good place mentally. You can’t take care of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first.
We also want to stress that this is not the case for every family. There are lots of reasons and factors that could cause a person to struggle with addiction. Factors that contribute to addiction include but are not limited to:
We often find that our patients who struggle with substance use disorder also struggle with a co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, refer to a person who suffers from both a substance use disorder and a mental illness. This means a person may be struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other diagnoses in addition to their addiction. Sometimes the drug or alcohol use is a way of coping with the mental illness or as a means of self-medicating. On the flip side, a substance use disorder can leave you feeling anxious or depressed.
In 1999, scientists studied two groups of identical and non-identical twins. They discovered genetic factors account for about half of the risk of alcohol dependence. A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry1https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/action/captchaChallenge?redirectUri=%2F found multiple genetic variants related to alcohol use and substance use disorders. While this is not a definitive answer for which genes cause which disorder, science is getting closer to answering this question.
There is no one path to addiction, and not a single factor will make addiction inevitable. Substance use disorder is complicated, and scientists and psychologists are continuously researching the causes and treatments.
Parents Affected by Addiction
You might be a parent who struggles with addiction. Or maybe one of your children battles substance use disorder. Whatever challenge you’re facing, you don’t have to do it alone. Our qualified staff of professionals at Cardinal Recovery can help you through this.
For Parents of Children Struggling With Addiction
It’s never easy to accept your child has a substance use disorder. You may wonder, “What could I have done differently?” You might even blame yourself. There are a lot of factors that contribute to addiction, and beating yourself up doesn’t help your child. You may never know why your kids developed an addiction. More than likely, it is not your fault.
Instead of putting yourself down, you need to take action now to help your son or daughter. No matter what happened in the past, you can’t change it down. All you can control is what you do now and in the future. In this situation, here’s what you can do:
- Strengthen the relationship you have with your child
- It doesn’t matter if your kid is a minor or if they’re an adult now; it’s always important to maintain a strong relationship with your children. We know it can be hurtful when your child uses deceitful tactics to obtain and use drugs. These actions will damage the relationship you have with them, but you can combat this by working to strengthen and rebuild the bond you share.
- Encourage positive behaviors
- No one wants to be reminded of their shortcomings. If you are focusing too much on the mistakes or the poor choices your child has made, they will have lower self-esteem and a decreased sense of personal autonomy. These factors all contribute to continued substance use. To help your child regain confidence in themselves, focus more on the positive behaviors.
- Create and enforce consistent expectations
- Establishing and enforcing consistent expectations will help your child understand acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Clear and consistent rules lead to improved outcomes with addiction.
- Set clear boundaries
- Your boundaries are what you will or will not do for your child. Those with substance use disorder are notoriously good at testing the boundaries of those they love through manipulation. Before this even happens, set your boundaries. Clarify that manipulation and other tactics are outside of the scope of what you will accept.
- Educate yourself
- Substance use disorders are complicated. Psychologists and scientists are still finding out new information about addiction. In order to best help your child, you need to be equipped with the knowledge. Keep educating yourself.
- Join a support group
- The good news is that you are not alone. You are not the first parent to have a child with an addiction. There are other people who have been where you are, and they can support you and give advice. Join a support group to help you navigate this. You don’t have to do it alone.
- Take care of yourself
- The bottom line: you can’t take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself first. Helping a child with an addiction is not an easy task. It might be one of the most difficult challenges you ever face. You can’t do it effectively unless your mental health is in the right space. Practice self-care and be kind to yourself.
If you are a parent affected by addiction, it’s important to speak to a professional to help guide you during this challenging time. It can also be wise to find a support group. Some people find comfort in knowing they aren’t the only parent who has been affected by addiction.
For Parents Struggling With Substance Use Disorder
Parents who struggle with addiction often feel an immense amount of guilt. Parents want the best for their kids, but someone struggling with addiction won’t be able to provide the best care for their kids. When parents become addicted to drugs or alcohol, it affects their physical and emotional health, behaviors, and ability to be a parent. If you are a parent and you are battling a substance use disorder, our personalized treatment plans can assist you with becoming the parent we know you want to be.
Parental substance use severely affects children’s health and development. Children who grow up in a home with parental drug use can end up suffering from emotional and developmental delays. They are also three times more likely to suffer physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. We know you don’t want your child to deal with any lasting traumatic effects.
If you find yourself asking, “Who is affected by substance use addiction?” the answer is never simple. People from all walks of life and backgrounds can be and have been affected by substance use addiction. If you are or someone you love is struggling with addiction, know that it is not a moral failing. We recognize addiction is a disease, and there are steps you can take to fight it.
Parents affected by addiction still want the best for their child, but they won’t get to be the parent they need to be until you start the road to recovery. If you’re ready to take that step, fill out this form or call us at (844) 471-1949 to schedule an appointment.
How Addiction Affects the Health of Others
While family and friends may be the first line of individuals affected by one’s substance use disorder, addiction can have many external effects that may be less obvious with the onset of the substance use.
Addiction has unique repercussions for females — it can negatively affect pregnancy. A pregnant woman who suffers from substance use while with a child can inadvertently cause their unborn baby to become addicted as well.
When the child is born, it will go into a form of withdrawal known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) that can result in troubles with basic tasks such as eating or sleeping. At its worst, NAS can cause seizures that may lead to death. Drug exposure in the womb can also lead to developmental issues for the child later on such as learning disabilities and problems with behavior and attention.
Substance use can also bring about biological problems in those who are not directly related to the individual. Secondhand smoke affects those who do not necessarily come into close contact with addicts. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, secondhand smoke exposes bystanders to hundreds of harmful chemicals just by being near a smoker and can increase the risk of heart disease in that individual, especially if they live with a smoker. Although much of this is known to be caused by cigarettes, studies are being conducted to observe the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke as well.
A smaller subset of external biological effects is a result of injecting drugs. Sharing injection needles can lead to the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C and can cause endocarditis and cellulitis. Additionally, intoxication from any drug can impair judgment in scenarios where sexual intercourse is involved, decreasing the likelihood that a condom is used and thereby spreading STDs.
Aside from the biological risks of addiction, the behavior of an addict while intoxicated can endanger the lives of others as well. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol results in thousands of motor accidents per year, endangering not only the individual user but also anyone in a surrounding vehicle. Some experience surges of violent emotions while under the influence as well and may be more prone to start a fight or incite physical harm on someone around them.
Addiction does not only affect the individual with a substance use disorder. It affects their family, their friends and it can sometimes affect people they may not even know. Before succumbing to cravings, peer pressure or any emotions that may incite drug or alcohol use, think about those around you.
Contact Cardinal Health for Help
We understand that caring for someone struggling with an addiction can be extremely taxing mentally and physically. Family and friends of a drug user are often the ones who show their loved ones they need help. By showing them affection and showing them how their addiction has affected you, there is a chance they will seek treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, we can help. At Cardinal Recovery, our team is dedicated to helping our patients regain control of their lives. Begin the healing journey by filling out this form or calling us at (855) 501-2201. Our staff is available any time, day or night, to assist you. We are the best in the Midwest, and we proudly serve the South Bend, Indiana community and patients from across the United States.