The Effects of Substance Abuse on Family Members


Millions of people throughout the United States suffer from substance abuse. In 2017, the United States Surgeon General reported that someone dies in the country every 19 minutes due to a heroin or opioid overdose, and the economic impact of drug addiction amounted to $442 billion annually. However, the impact extends far beyond the addict individually. The effects of substance abuse also impact the addict’s family members, and it can lead to similarly devastating consequences.


There are many emotions family members experience when a loved one has succumbed to addiction. Fear, hate, resentment and anger are common, but it is also possible for people to feel embarrassed from an addict’s actions. Therefore, people in the family may decide not to go to as many social activities because they do not want to bring the addict with them. Children may feel self-conscious going to a friend’s party because they are worried a parent will create a scene.

Financial Instability

Many addicts are unable to hold down jobs, so if an addict in the family is a parent or caregiver, then less income will go into the household. This can make it more difficult to pay for food, utilities and rent. In many cases, an addict may steal money from family members or steal valuables to pawn off to pay for drugs. This results in less money to go toward the essentials.

Familial Damage Later in Life

Children raised by addicts are at a greater risk of carrying that trauma into adulthood. It ultimately impacts how they raise their future children. For example, a child with an addict as a parent may become too overbearing and not allow future kids to express themselves independently. The generational impact of addiction is real, and the family may never recover.


When one spouse in a relationship is an addict, it is possible for a codependent relationship to form. The non-addict spouse may eventually develop a sense of self-worth through his or her role as a caregiver of the addict. This is linked to enabling, which perpetuates the pattern of addiction.


Addicts create a harmful environment in the household where people are prone to making condescending remarks or complaints. Children viewing this may become accustomed to this behavior and bring it into future relationships. Children learn the only way to gain attention is through the creations of emotional upheaval, which is not healthy.

Increased Risk of Addiction

A report from the National Association for Children of Alcoholics found that children raised by alcoholics were four times more likely to succumb to addiction than their peers. When kids turn into teenagers, they may turn to alcohol and drugs as a way to self-medicate to deal with the stress at home.

At High Focus Centers, we are dedicated to providing teenagers and adults with the treatment and counseling necessary to overcome addiction. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, contact us today or call us at 877-701-0807.