How Addiction Takes Its Toll on the Whole FamilyPerhaps you’re considering seeking help for a substance addiction. Or perhaps you’re trying to help someone you care about overcome a drug or alcohol dependency. Regardless of your role in the process, you must understand how addiction can affect each member of a family.


Children experience some obvious effects of addiction. These may include losing a parent or sibling, either to the addiction itself, jail time on substance convictions, or physical effects of long-term substance abuse.

Children, especially those middle school age or younger, may feel anger at or even responsibility for their loved one’s addiction.

If you are an addict or the spouse or parent of an addict, make sure to explain things to your children. Hushed arguments and unexplained disappearances can prove much more damaging to children than information about the struggles their parent or sibling faces.

Partner or Spouse

Addiction can immediately come between partners. This division comes from the nature of addiction. Most addicts find the need to lie to their partner or spouse, which cultivates feelings of distrust, abandonment, and betrayal.

If you are the romantic partner of an addict, remember to take care of yourself and your children as your highest priority. You cannot fix or control your loved one’s addiction, and belief that you can may expose you or your children to danger or loss. If you feel the need, seek a family member support group. These organizations can help you make any difficult decisions that face you.


Substance dependence causes a range of mental and physical problems. In addition to these problems, many addicts face job loss, housing difficulties, or criminal prosecution as a result of their actions.

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Whether you’ve only just identified an addiction or the problem has progressed to the point of criminal charges, understanding how addiction affects families can help you make future decisions. Seek help to minimize these effects.

If you have an addiction that has yet to directly impact anyone else, don’t wait for problems to arise. Attend anonymous support meetings or seek help from a qualified mental health professional. You can find a 12 Step meeting new you using’s meeting locator.

If your addiction has progressed and you have been charged with drug possession or intent to distribute controlled substances, seek legal help. An experienced attorney with this practice area can help you find the resources you need to change your life for the better.