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In most cases, the effects of alcohol and drug abuse are usually considered in relation to the affected person. While this is understandable, it does not sufficiently address the problem. This is because drug and alcohol abuse affects a person's relationships, particularly those involving the family. More often than not, children, spouses and parents also suffer from the effects of substance abuse. Such relationships are normally characterized by conflict, due to the influence of drugs and alcohol. In view of this, a treatment program should involve family members in order to be successful. Failure to do this will create a resentful environment in the home, slowing the substance abuser's healing progress. In this article, the effects of alcohol and drug abuse on the family will be discussed in detail. This is aimed at showing that the impact of substance abuse cannot be viewed as a personal matter.
One of the effects of alcohol and drug abuse on the family is that it leads to financial problems. To begin with, substance abusers normally use a significant portion of their money to fund their addiction. Consequently, they are unable to fulfill the financial obligations to their families, causing financial stress. Secondly, substance abusers are also at a higher risk of losing their jobs. This happens as their competence is eroded by substance abuse, making them ineffective employees. An individual who abuses drugs or alcohol is more likely to miss work, make mistakes or cause accidents at the work place. Since no employer can tolerate such behavior, it means that such people will remain unemployed. If they happen to be the sole breadwinners in the family, then the financial strain will be severe. The living standard of the affected family will deteriorate so as to accommodate the addiction.
The other common effect of alcohol and drug abuse on the family is constant conflict. This may be due to various reasons, all of which are related to the impact of substance abuse. Alcohol and drug abuse destabilizes a person both mentally and emotionally. Due to this instability, substance abusers tend to be physically violent towards parents, spouses or children. Indeed, most of the violent crimes are committed by persons under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Besides causing physical harm, such violence also has negative psychological consequences for those involved. Children or spouses subjected to violence end up suffering from psychological problems such as anxiety or depression. In extreme cases, they may also end up abusing substances in order to cope with the stressful situation.
The mental and emotional instability resulting from substance abuse also leads to erratic behavior. This means that a person who abuses alcohol or drugs is not predictable in his or her reactions. Spouses and children are particularly affected, since they have to live with the substance abuser. As for the children, they are wholly dependent on their parents for security and stability. They are therefore easily disoriented if a similar behavior elicits different reactions from a substance abusing parent. Further, such a parent will also set rules erratically, so that the children cannot tell when they are right or wrong. This creates confusion in children, while it also causes them to misbehave since there are no clearly defined boundaries. Spouses are highly likely to opt for separation under such circumstances, further affecting the children negatively. Communication in such an atmosphere is also strained, as the family is always in a crisis mode. The spouse or children will therefore repress their anger, which may be expressed through substance abuse. As a result, some families get stuck in an endless cycle of alcohol and drug abuse.
It is clear from this article that the effects of alcohol and drug abuse on the family cannot be understated. In addition to causing grief to the family, these effects can also perpetuate substance abuse to future generations. As such, it is essential to consider these effects, especially when enrolling the affected individual in a treatment program. This will not only facilitate healing for the individual, but also for the family members affected by substance abuse. Unless this is done, keeping the family unit intact can be difficult, as there will definitely be feelings of resentment. In the end therefore, alcohol and drug abuse cannot be considered as a personal problem, regardless of the family structures involved.
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