Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Substance Abuse and the Family Environment

Substance abuse not only substantially affects the person who has the addiction, but also the environment his/her family grows up in. Families that grow up in a substance abuse household are more likely to have financial problems, behavioral problems, and incidences of domestic violence.

According to research, most of the children involved in the welfare system have parents that are substance abusers. Many factors play into this research. Money that would be used for food, clothing, and education for the children would be put towards the addiction. Money that would be put towards rent or mortgages on the home would also be used for buying the substance of choice. This obviously would have a huge affect on how the family lives and the environment the family is surrounded by.

The relationship between other family members, like the children, and the substance abuser, as we see in studies, is poor. There is a strong sense of neglect and disconnect between them. Children with drug addicted parents often have a higher level of aggression, delinquency, hyperactivity, impulsivity, anxiety, less differentiation of self. These affects on the child psyche affects not only how they are in school, but how they develop into an adolescent and then an adult.

Lastly, violence within the family is highly linked with substance abuse. Alcohol abuse is the most apparent in domestic violence. Studies in the United States show that 30 to 40 percent of men and 27 to 34 percent of women who are responsible for the violence were drinking around the same time it started. The addition of violence in the home with the substance abuse lead to a negative environment that have long lasting effects on the family and its structure.

Posted by Heather Saide


  1. I think this is a very interesting topic and is important for people to know about. Many people don't realize that not only the substance abuser is affected but also their family. When you stated the percentages of men and women who were involved in committing domestic violence and within those cases the number who were alcohol abusers, the semi high percentages were not too shocking. I would think that would be true but had not ever seen the research stating this evidence until now. You did a good job at addressing how the abuser's family would be affected with specific examples to back up your points.

  2. On the same note, children of alcoholic parents can grow up in a very emotionally unstable environment. The parent uses alcohol to escape from their feelings, but while intoxicated that parents feelings are expressed in a very extreme way. Hence why the alcoholic personality has very extreme emotions.
    As a child, having a stable loving caregiver, particularly when young, is essential to learning healthy attachment to others, and expression of ones feelings. Children of alcoholic parent(s) are given a confusing model to go off of. Many are codependent in relationships and have difficulty having a healthy relationship to their emotions. Groups such as Adult Children of Alcoholics (with a similar structure to AA) go into depth about this.
    Alcoholism doesn't just affect the individual, but the whole family.

  3. I had not even considered the direct effects alcohol and drug abuse has on the people who are directly linked to them. I have only had family members that were alcohol and pill abusers as distant relatives so I forget about how children and spouses are affected by these diseases.

    I think the economic part of this situation is very important in looking at people with Drug and Alcohol abuse. Some foster parents take in kids because they are paid by the government. There are a large number of children that have been abused in foster homes.

    This entry was very informative and helpful. Thanks!

    Carolyn Kaufman

  4. Substance abuse in families can be a huge problems and tends to run through the generations. My experience both as a child from a family with addiction and as someone who has studied addiction counseling. The problems that go along with having an addict in the family have lasting effects on both the immediate family and throughout the generations. While doing the genogram assignment and viewing the presentations I found it interesting how addiction can effect families. Great topic!