If you are an addict, will your children and loved ones suffer from addiction as well? Both genetics and environmental factors play a part in addiction. How is your family affected?
Addiction researchers now have strong evidence for the genetic basis of addiction. Genes predispose some individuals to addiction, while others are less likely to become addicts. Even so, the exact contribution of genetics is not yet determined, and most researchers agree that there is an environmental influence to addiction.
For this reason, it is important to consider how addiction affects the people we care about most –those in our families. In this blog, we will examine the ways in which having an addiction affects family members.
Children learn about the world from their early experiences in their family. When children grow up in a family with an addicted parent, they observe and learn that using substances is an effective coping strategy. Research has now found that there are observable differences in children of alcoholics when compared with children of non-alcoholic parents.
Consequences for partners of alcoholics include economic and psycho-social risks. Insofar as an addict spends money on their addiction, which puts financial strain on the relationship. Often, in an attempt to hide the addiction, the money that is spent is not openly discussed, leading to greater economic risk and a betrayal of trust when it is discovered.
While economic risks are the most quantifiable, the psychological and social risks of being in a relationship with an addict are also significant. Partners of addicts may experience a range of negative emotions, including anger, shame, frustration, sadness, and despondency. They may respond to their partner negatively, or focus those negative feelings inward. This has a profound effect on the social life of the addict’s partner, too. Other relationships suffer, as friends and family respond to the strain and stress in the relationship.
Adult Children of Addicts
When parents grow older, and their children become adults, addiction can create strains and unhealthy ways of relating. Parents may be in need of help, whether it be emotional, financial, or practical. Their children, rather than moving on in their own direction, may remain overly close and even take on a parental role with their own parents.
The effects of addiction extend not only to the nuclear family, but also to the extended family. Distant relatives who are addicts may not have as profound an influence as a parent, but they nevertheless set an example. A favorite aunt or uncle may, indeed, be a role model for a child or teenager. Seeing that one’s role model has an addiction has the potential to set a negative example.
Understanding of addiction is developing, and there are great gaps in knowledge of how social influences may increase risk for addiction. Even so, it is important to be aware of how addiction may influence those we care about.
The Cabin Chiang Mai provides world-class treatment for addiction. If you are concerned about addiction, contact one of our specialists today.