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Living with an Adult Who Uses Substances

Addiction is a disease that causes changes in the brain. When people abuse a substance, the dopamine receptors in their brain get activated. These receptors tell the brain that the drug is a necessity for survival. Over time, the brain changes and adapts as it becomes dependent on the substances consumed. Brain changes become permanent and addiction becomes chronic or a long-term disease. The disease can become so severe that it can become difficult for your loved one to control their drug use, even if they know that it is devastating their physical, emotional, and financial being.

However, one must remember that addiction is treatable. For patients dependent on substances, rehabilitation in an addiction treatment center with health counseling, life caching, and psychological therapies may be a long-term solution. When a person thinks about recovery, they cannot do it alone. They need the support of not only the rehabilitation team, but also their family and friends. They need all the love, compassion, and patience that these groups can offer.

How Addiction Can Affect Family Members

According to various studies, it is evident that addiction of one family member can affect the entire family. The family members can experience conditions and feelings such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Guilt
  • Embarrassment and anger
  • Financial problems
  • Insomnia
  • Unhealthy daily schedule
  • Feelings of insecurity physically and mentally

Impact on Children of Parents Suffering From Substance Abuse

It is difficult for children or youth to live in a family where in at least one family member is a victim of substance abuse. Research studies have shown that children experience major depressive episodes if one of their parents is a victim of substance abuse. It has been observed that in cases where parents have received treatment for addiction but have relapsed, their children have experienced violence or abuse or have turned to substances themselves.

Research studies have shown that children living in such hostile environment are more likely to develop depression or anxiety in adolescence and get addicted to alcohol or other drugs at an early stage. Any kind of emotional or mental condition or addiction can affect their future relationships and mental state as they grow up. Therefore primary care and mental health support becomes vital for such children.

How to deal With Your Feelings

If you are also staying in a family affected by substance abuse, remember that you are not the only one affected. Other family members are also suffering. If you feel physically and emotionally hurt due to the painful circumstances frequently taking place inside your house due to substance abuse then there are ways to help yourself.

But first, you need to understand that everybody reacts differently under pressure, worry, and hostile circumstances. People whom you love the most loose control over their mind and behavior once they become dependent on a substance. In such cases, you can speak with any trustworthy person from your family or friend, who can willingly assist you to come out of the trauma. You can also seek professional help and speak to a therapist.

Tips for Living With Loved One Who Has Addiction

  1. Find a safe place for yourself. Use it whenever you feel overwhelmed.
  2. You need to keep yourself and your family safe. Make sure that family rules and boundaries are set. If the member dependent on substances turns violent and safety becomes a concern, you can ask them to leave the house for some time. A little time away will put the whole situation in perspective for everyone.
  3. Always have a response plan ready in case of an emergency. Keep the phone number of people, from whom you can seek help, handy at all times. Any adult, like your brother, grandparent, uncle or anyone else, whom you can ask for help in despair, should be informed beforehand and told to be on standby. Understand that the people dependent on substances are not dangerous by themselves, but the substance they consume, ruins their ability to think, making them violent.
  4. Restrict money flow for the dependent family member, so that they cannot purchase any addictive substance without your knowledge.
  5. In case of verbal abuse or violence you can always call the pre-identified emergency helpline number to seek immediate help.
  6. Prioritize your own self-care like eating well, exercising, and meditating. You can also join support groups to help you. Sharing your experiences with people with similar circumstances makes you realize that you are not alone.
  7. You can always speak to a therapist to come out of the trauma.
  8. You can also encourage your dependent loved ones to pursue a treatment or rehabilitation plan.


Living with a person with addiction can be difficult for the entire family. But a little bit of understanding about the disease, love, empathy, and care for each other can make things better.

If you  or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder and/or a mental illness and is looking for a reliable behavioral health center, get in touch with the 24/7 Recovery Helpline by calling our 24/7 helpline 855-441-4405. The 24/7 Recovery Helpline partners with multiple behavioral health centers that offer comprehensive evidence-based treatment plans for patients dealing with substance abuse issues, as well as mental health disorders. You can also chat online with our experts available 24/7 at our drug addiction help online chat to get guidance about dual-diagnosis treatment centers and programs offered.

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