How Family Can Affect Addiction

How family can affect addiction

When it comes to individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol, their addiction can become almost like another family member. Alcohol and drug addiction has an undeniable impact on the dynamic of a family and understanding just what that impact is is instrumental in helping a family member who suffers from addiction.

Filling the Gap

Being addicted to alcohol or drugs is likely to make a person lax in his or her responsibilities, whether those responsibilities are going to school, going to work, paying bills or keeping appointments. Drug and alcohol addiction can force family members to pick up the slack for the drug addict or alcoholic in an effort to maintain a sense of normalcy. While this enabling behavior might seem as if it’s helping the family, it’s actually doing the exact opposite, mainly by keeping everyone from facing the truth.

Stepping Up

In addition to enabling the addict, a family member might become a chronic overachiever or hero figure in order to make up for the individual who is “dropping the ball” and slowing the family’s collective momentum. This savior complex can lead to the family member internalizing and burying emotions that should be voiced and expressed rather than left to fester inside where they can lead to resentment, anger, anxiety and stress.


By filling the gap and stepping up to make up for a family member who abuses drugs or alcohol, other members of the family may neglect their own lives, let their personal goals fall to the wayside or make additional sacrifices to keep the family from drowning. Such sacrifices aren’t fair, and there’s a chance these family members aren’t even aware of just how much of their time and energy they’re giving up to act as a safety net.

Helping a family member receive proper addiction treatment is the only way to restore equilibrium to the family structure. In most cases, addiction doesn’t affect just one person, and that’s especially true when family members are involved.

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