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Substance Abuse Within the Family and Tips to Cope

Maybe you are unaware of what to look out for and what to do in this unique situation. Substance abuse can be tough, but you do know that you want to get through and overcome this situation. Many people face this situation within their family, and while every family is unique, the hope for things to change or get better is the same.

In this post, we will define substance abuse, identify signs of substance abuse, issues encountered within the family, and how to cope.

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol, pain medication, and illicit drugs. It describes a pattern of use that causes significant problems or distress. Substance abuse refers to the misuse of legal and illegal substances. Continued use may lead to legal issues or impact friendships and family relationships. Substances typically include alcohol, marijuana, prescription medication, methamphetamine, cocaine, opiates, hallucinogens, and inhalants. Alcohol is the most common legal drug that is associated with substance abuse. It is suggested that to be diagnosed with substance abuse, it depends on the substance used, the frequency of use, and the length of time since last used.

People not only experience substance abuse issues, but there can be substance dependence. Substance dependence refers to the use of drugs and alcohol even after experiencing negative problems. Signs of dependence include:

  1. Tolerance or need for increased amounts of the drug to get an effect.

  2. Withdrawal symptoms occur when the use of the drugs has been decreased and increased difficulty to quit or slow down.

  3. Time spent to get, use, and recover from the effects of using drugs.

  4. Continued use even through the awareness of the physical, psychological, and family problems associated with the ongoing use of drugs.

What causes Substance Abuse?

Multiple factors can cause substance abuse, but these factors can be determined by culture or society. However, causes can include:

  1. Environmental factors

  2. Social pressures

  3. Genetic Vulnerability

  4. Individual Personality Characteristics

  5. Psychiatric Problems

How Does Substance Abuse Affect the Family?

People may think that substance use may only affect the individual. Still, the continued use can have short-term and long-term effects on the immediate family and others around the individual. Substance abuse can affect the child, parent, spouse, and others around them as it alters the lives of anyone who loves the individual. Addiction affects the entire family in more ways than one, but the effects can depend on the individual with the problem and the family's relationship with the person. However, not all families will feel the same effect to the same extent. No matter which family member has the problem, substance abuse can cause a strain on the relationship between the individual and the family member(s).

Family members respond in different ways to addiction. Some may want to avoid engaging in conversation with the individual, some may want to take control or try to influence the individual to get help or stop altogether, and others may want to stand a middle ground and blend in as best as possible. Each family member may take on a different role in how they handle the individual with the addiction. Some may take on the caretaker role, making excuses or enabling the addicted individual to keep the peace within the household. In contrast, some may take on the hero role and ensure that the home remains stable and appear normal to maintain appearances with others outside of the family.

Tips to Cope with Addiction Within the Family

Many people find it difficult to cope with the addiction of their loved ones and may feel like they have tried everything for them to get the help they need. Seeking help for yourself is also an excellent option to help with coping with the effects of the addiction. Here are a few tips to help cope with the effects of addiction for family members:

  1. Individual Therapy. It is a way to focus on yourself and your goals and explore the effects of your loved one's addiction.

  2. Family Therapy. It is an excellent way for multiple family members to explore the effects of their loved one's addiction and find help in coping.

  3. Al-Anon Family Groups. This is an alternative group to Alcoholics Anonymous for the family members of the addicted individual. It is a way for family members to find contentment.

Having a loved one with substance abuse issues can be a painful and overwhelming experience. However, all hope is not lost since there are many ways to cope with the addiction of your loved one. You are not alone and can seek help to start your healing process.

For more tips, please check out our other tips here ( You can always find us at 954-903-1676 for counseling services.

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