How Does Addiction Affect Families?

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Addiction affects families in many different ways, often leading to difficulties in relationships and trust being lost.

Effective addiction treatment often involves including family members in the process. Group family therapy sessions are often incredibly impactful in both the individual struggling with addiction, as well as the family.

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Read on to learn more about “How does addiction affect families?” and how family therapy can help.

If you or a loved one need family therapy for addiction, call our friendly recovery team at 949.694.8305 for help.

Effects of Addiction on Family

Addiction is seen as a personal struggle, but it strongly impacts the whole family. Children, spouses, and parents can all suffer from the effects of addiction.

Short-term and long-term effects of substance abuse can tear apart family dynamics. Conflict can become routine as family members try to connect with their loved ones struggling with addiction. Trust begins to weaken, and relatives may become more guarded as the person dealing with addiction becomes more secretive or aggressive. Marriages can crumble due to the changes triggered by addiction, and communication within the family often worsens.

Family members may see a loved one suffering from the side effects of drugs or alcohol, or they may see them rapidly lose weight or change dramatically in appearance. Sometimes, families lose contact with a loved one, only to learn they’ve been homeless or have died from an overdose. Such traumatic events can cause relatives to experience severe emotional pain and may lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms like co-dependency.

image representing effects of addiction on family

How Does Addiction Affect Children in The Family?

Addiction within a family has a profound effect on children, leaving emotional scars that can last a lifetime. They often experience fear and confusion as they watch a parent’s unpredictable behavior due to substance use. Trust is shattered as children cope with broken promises, neglect, or abuse.

The abuse of drugs and alcohol destroys families and makes children feel less safe and stable at home. This often leads to problems at school, where students struggle to focus on their studies or interact with peers. Some children take on adult duties such as caring for siblings or managing household tasks, rather than enjoying their childhood.

When children have parents addicted to drink or drugs, ACES (adverse childhood experiences) can affect their mental health. These children are more likely to encounter depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem in later life. They are also at a higher risk of developing substance abuse problems, continuing a cycle of addiction that spans generations.

The Role of Family Therapy in Addiction Recovery

Family therapy plays an important role in addiction recovery by dealing with the impact of substance abuse on the whole family unit. It provides a safe space for family members to communicate openly about their loved one’s addiction. They can express their struggles, emotions, and concerns in therapy sessions. Family therapy helps to rebuild trust, improve communication, and strengthen family bonds. By involving the whole family, therapy sessions can identify and address unhealthy dynamics and patterns that might enable or contribute to addiction. Therapists guide families in developing healthy boundaries, improving conflict resolution skills, and promoting supportive relationships. By building a more cohesive family unit, this form of therapy can help prevent relapse and reduce the burden on other family members.

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Get Addiction Treatment & Family Therapy at California Detox

If you’re struggling with prescription drugs, alcohol, or illegal drugs, California Detox in Laguna Beach offers various programs and therapies to help.

We provide the easiest path to inpatient or outpatient rehab through our medical detox program, which gives you medications to help with cravings and withdrawal. After detox, you can move straight into an inpatient program at our Laguna Beach rehab.

All California Detox programs offer personalized care, combining science-based treatments and holistic methods for a full recovery. This includes:

Call us at 949.694.8305 to get help right away.


Drug abuse can strain family relationships, cause trust issues, and lead to financial and emotional stress. It often results in conflict and communication problems among family members.
Co-dependency is when a person relies too much on someone else, often prioritizing the other person’s needs over their own. In families with addiction, this can lead to unhealthy relationships and enable addictive behavior.


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