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The Effects of Addiction on Family and Friends

Many people believe battling a substance use disorder is a personal experience. Because of the effects of addiction, it can be highly damaging to the individual. Many people don’t think about the other people directly involved, such as the person’s family and friends.

Partners, children, parents, and friends of someone battling with addiction also experience emotional damage. They may also have to deal with financial, legal, medical, and other consequences.

How Addiction Hurts Your Family and Friends

The effects of alcohol and drug addiction can be both short and long-term. Happy, peaceful, and loving families can be wrecked by the strain resulting from drug and alcohol addiction. Conflict and violence may become commonplace when family members have a son or daughter misusing drugs and alcohol.

Loss of Trust

With time, trust may break down between family and friends. Relatives may become depressed if their loved one abusing legal drugs begins to act with aggression or attempts to hide their condition in secrecy.

Broken Relationships/Divorce

Marriages can break due to changes resulting from addiction. Communication becomes more challenging, leading to frustration.

Inability to Recognize Loved Ones

Many family members and friends may see their loved ones deal with harsh side effects of drugs or become angry or violent when under the influence. Others may notice their loved ones lose weight rapidly and become almost unrecognizable.


Some people may not hear from a loved one for a significant period only to find out they’re living on the streets or have overdosed from drugs. Such shock and trauma can cause people to create unhealthy coping mechanisms. For example, codependent behaviors, like making excuses for their loved one’s choices and habits.

How Addiction Impacts Young Children

Many children grow up in homes where a parent abuses drugs or alcohol. Watching the trauma and devastation of a parent suffering addiction as a child has long-term effects on them. Kids growing up watching a parent addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely to have substance use disorders of their own in adulthood.

Generational Trauma

Seeing a parent on drugs often leads to distressing feelings and emotions. This can lead to delays in learning and development and mental and emotional problems. As children are still extremely vulnerable to external influences and are getting comfortable with their personalities, they may end up repeating the behaviors of their parents.

Emotional Distress

Kids may experience seeing aggressive or violent behavior due to a parent’s drug and alcohol use. Arguments between parents may become common, leading to emotional distress watching family members fight.

Early exposure to a household divided by substance abuse can lead a child to feel emotionally and physically unsafe and neglected. This can make them more mentally and emotionally unstable.

Poor Self Image

Kids dealing with addiction may develop guilt and self-blame for their parent’s addiction problems. They may develop emotions of unworthiness or create unhealthy and dysfunctional attachments in their adulthood.

Loss of Custody

In severe cases, children may be removed from their home and their parents and placed into care.

Teenage Addiction Affects The Family

Underaged drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adults. This is known as binge drinking. Many young people drink alcohol regularly.

Marijuana use is also common in teens and is more popular than cigarette smoking and other drug use.

Teenagers receive peer pressure in school and are consistently exposed to temptation for trying new or dangerous substances. Many teenagers are still developing their personality and growing their identity, so they are still impressionable. Likewise, teenagers who’ve experienced parental substance abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol when they’re older.

Teenage substance addiction can result from external sources like peer pressure from school and internal factors such as genetics and self-medication. Drugs like cocaine can overstimulate young people, leading them to sleep less and work poorly in school. Or it may encourage them to hang out with peers who abuse drugs.

Prescription opioids and synthetic opioids may create euphoric feelings and effects, but they require continued use with adverse side effects.

Teenage substance addiction has a direct impact on family members and friends, including:

  • Financial problems
  • Poor school performance
  • Exposure to other substances
  • Reckless behavior within the home
  • Stealing money from parents to pay for their habit
  • Running away from home
  • Causing parental grief

Young people may become overwhelmed with addictive substances and problem relationships at home and may decide to run away from home. Strained relationships with parents and other relatives can seem to push troubled teenagers toward drugs and alcohol to ‘escape.’ Once a teenager runs away from home, they’re more vulnerable to sexual, emotional, and financial exploitation.


When a loved one is suffering from the effects of addiction, one of the most helpful things you can do is to educate yourself about addiction and dependence problems. Then you’ll discover the most and least valuable courses of action.

You’re also likely to discover that once you understand what your friend or family member is experiencing, it can be easier to manage the pain caused by their actions.

Watching a loved one get trapped by addiction to the point where they feel there’s no way out can be devastating. Help your family member or friend find treatment to help them on the road to recovery by browsing our wide range of programs here at Cenikor or calling us at 888-236-4567 to discuss a specific and individual course of action.

See our treatment programs here and help your loved one beat their addiction. You can help your loved one find a safe, effective rehab or treatment service that focuses on rebuilding connection and love, helping them start a happy, new, sober life.

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