When you’re suffering with an addiction, you’re entire life will be affected. Your job, your family, your friends will all be touched by your addiction. Your age doesn’t matter when it comes to an addiction, your background doesn’t matter, and none of these things will protect your loved ones from feeling the effects of your addiction.
Addiction affects everyone in the family differently. If you have any children, they may feel guilt or feel that they are the cause of your addiction and the actions you take while you are addicted. Most children are not able to process cause and effect and know that it is your own actions that are the issue. They may feel like they are responsible due to something that they have done in the past. Children may become depressed and have low self-esteem. In addition, they will also develop unhealthy coping mechanisms. These can include acting out to take the attention off of the addict or thinking that they have to be perfect to make up for the behavior of the addict. They can develop obsessions such as dressing perfectly, have perfect grades or they could go to the extreme and develop bad habits like lying, cheating or stealing.
Spouses or significant others will also be effected by their partners addiction. They can essentially become the caretaker of the addict and simply ignore every other aspect of their life. They can become so focused on the needs of the addict that they do not think about their very own needs. Significant others may deny their own interests and hobbies and focus solely on how to make life better for an addict. They may feel like they have to be perfect and maintain complete control. They will try to protect the addict from consequences that could arise from their addiction. Spouses may become angry, hurt, depressed and withdrawn while trying to maintain strict control of the addict’s life.
Friends may get hurt feelings. Addicts have a tendency to pull away from people that do not offer unlimited encouragement of their addiction. If a friend says “Hey you may be drinking too much” an addict will most likely spend less and less time with that friend, while seeking out friendships with others who will participate in their addiction. It’s a lot easier to be around people who are doing the same activities as you, such as drinking or doing drugs, than it is to be around someone who is saying you should stop. Feelings will get hurt and friendships will suffer because of an addiction.
When getting help for an addiction, it’s important to remember your family and friends. You’ll be encouraged to make amends and you’ll be encouraged to allow your family members to attend therapy sessions with you. It’s important to have your family and friends available as an extended support system for recovering from your addiction.