Families of Addicts
Families are impacted as they watch their loved ones go through the struggles of substance abuse
Recovering addicts discuss the immense impact their addiction had on their families. Created by: Allie Stein
Families Affected by Addiction
Aside from the addicts themselves, the ones who are affected by their disease the most are family members. Parents, siblings, children and more are impacted, hurt and scared by the addiction that their loved ones are facing. Addiction affects a family’s well-being financially, emotionally and physically. Not knowing where they are, who they are with or what they are doing can disrupt their lives, but finding out that the worst has happened can bring their worlds tumbling down.
In more recent years, family dynamics tend to vary more and more. It is not always just a mom and dad raising 2 or 3 kids in a stable household. Children can live with 1 parent, older siblings or grandparents. In fact, the number of children raised by grandparents in the United States raised from 2.4 million to 4.9 million from the year 2000 to 2010. This is often the case when parents of young children are addicts. These dynamics play a role in their development, and the impact on each unique family situation differs from household to household.
Rick Craft’s 23-year-old daughter is 2 and a half years sober. Her little brother was affected by her struggle with alcohol.
“He’s keenly aware. It has affected him both positively and negatively. You know, to see his sister go through this was really tough,” Craft said. “Our reaction as a family to it, the disruption that she caused, the chaos she brought into the house was witnessed, but I think it’s had a lot of impact on him.”
Parents are greatly impacted by having to witness their children suffer through this disease firsthand.
“We go through the stages of grieving knowing that our children are not going to achieve what we in our mind wanted them to achieve,” Victoria Smith, mother of 2 recovering addicts, said. “They have a different path now. They’ll never be rid of this disease, they will continue to manage it. If they don’t, they will die or end up in jail. It’s that simple.”
The parents of addicts are also impacted greatly by the disease their children are going through.
“My dad, he never cries. And every time I came home from a stint in jail or a night at the police station he would sit there and cry,” Katie Burlingame, recovering addict and program coordinator at the New Leaf Club, said. “And he was probably the most affected, because him and I have like a bond that’s like unbreakable and it was shaken to the core. Whenever I would get in trouble he would just break down, and I saw it almost kill him. So he was probably the most affected. And now since I’ve been in recovery him and I have a great relationship.”
More than two thirds of American families are touched by addiction. This staggering number is just one of the reasons why the issue of addiction needs to be addressed and a solution needs to be found.
Written by: Katie Muska