How drugs affect families

This section looks at the impact on families where the use of alcohol or other drugs is active on any particular family member.

In some cases the person actively taking substances may not suffer from the illness of addiction. However the behaviour which is displayed subsequent to the consumption of drugs and alcohol has negative impact on the rest of the family.

With this in mind we look at the following four scenarios:

A parent with a drug or alcohol problem can have a negative effect on the family nucleus. The person in active addiction keeps repeating negative behavioural patterns which inevitably bring about negative consequences for all. Family members eager to assist often begin to display irrational behavioural patterns themselves. The first step towards addressing this issue is when family members actively acquire information on addiction and its effects.





It cannot be easy to live with a person whose drinking or drug use is causing problems. The active user is often in conflict within themselves. Their need to consume the substance overcomes the negative consequences that substance misuse normally generates. The person in active addiction often blames others as opposed to taking personal responsibility for their actions. The partner or spouse not in active use will often question themselves as to how they may have failed within the relationship. They also display a sense of blame at having failed to protect the addict and other family members.  

If you can identify with this situation it is suggested that you first seek the help and support you need.

See Family support link. 




The child of a parent in active use may also feel trapped and helpless. In order to cope with the situation they often adopt a role which enables them to detach from the crude reality. However there is a danger that they adopt this role in all areas of their lives and neglect their own needs.



Often family relationships can disintegrate when a child is actively using drugs or alcohol. Arguments ensue between parents on how best to tackle the situation while other siblings take the brunt of the blame. Often whilst the child in active using will receive full attention from the parents, the other siblings may feel neglected. Such tensions in the home environment will inevitably destabalise the family unit.

In order to help your child it is suggested that you obtain the relevant professional help beforehand.