The Heavy Cost of Alcohol Abuse

The Heavy Cost of Alcohol Abuse

The Alameda Sun publisher Dennis Evanosky is a recovering alcoholic with 35 years sobriety. He hopes that this article might inspire someone to join him in his sobriety.

Drug and alcohol abuse is, unfortunately, far too common today. You likely have heard abundant news coverage about the impact of addiction on those who use drugs, as well as on communities as a whole. However, the direct impact of substance abuse on families can, at times, be overlooked.

Sadly, the drug abuse effects on family can be overwhelming, and even distressing. Addiction doesn’t just impact the person using drugs or alcohol. Every member of the family, from spouses, to parents, to
children and siblings, are impacted in some way. If you are in this situation now and have just started the journey as a family or friend of someone with an addiction, you might be wondering what is the most likely effect on a household when a family member is a substance abuser?

How does drug addiction affect the family: The effects of drug addiction on family members can be significant and profound. It is common for family members to begin questioning where they went wrong and what they could have done to prevent their loved one from turning to drugs or alcohol.

They may blame themselves for their loved one’s addiction, or they may begin to resent their loved one for putting the family through this situation. It is likely that someone with a substance use disorder doesn’t truly understand how addiction affects family and friends.

While addiction is a disease that can change how a person thinks, behaves, or feels, they often say or do things that hurt family and friends. In some cases, individuals with an addiction lie to their family and friends, attempting to hide their substance use. They may steal money or drugs to feed their habit. In some cases, they may even neglect their obligations to their family, including caring for their children or contributing financially.

Financial Consequences
Addiction is expensive, both to maintain and to treat. When a person’s drug or alcohol use becomes compulsive and more frequent, the addict might quickly drain a family’s bank account to pay for his or her next fix.
Sometimes, people with substance use disorders steal or hoard money to pay for drugs or alcohol, ignoring family responsibilities, such as paying bills or buying groceries. This can lead to serious repercussions for the entire family, including utilities being shut off, houses being repossessed, or children being removed from the home due to neglect.

Abuse or Neglect
Unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse results in changes in the brain (neurotransmitter levels) that can alter a person’s behavior, personality, and ability to think rationally. A person who would never harm another while not using drugs or alcohol can cause physical or emotional harm when under the influence.
Some drugs can make a person more aggressive and unable to control their temper, leading to a higher likelihood of physical abuse towards a spouse, child, friend, or other family member. They may also have difficulties controlling what they say, sometimes using abusive or hurtful language.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine states that intimate partner violence is exceedingly common in relationships where one or both partners have a substance abuse disorder. In fact, around half of all instances of intimate partner violence occur while at least one partner is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In some tragic cases, alcohol and drug abuse can also lead to sexual abuse, especially of children. This can happen, for example, if a parent under the influence invites others who use drugs over to the house for an extended period of time and that person abuses children in the home.

Risk of Disease
Another unfortunate consequence of addiction is the risk of spreading infections, such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. This is especially true if your loved one injects drugs, although in some cases, this can also happen if your friend or family member is involved in risky sexual activity.
These diseases can potentially be spread between sexual partners, especially before one partner becomes aware of the other partner’s substance use. They can also be passed on from mother to baby through pregnancy or breastfeeding.

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