Addiction: A Family Illness

Substance use disorders are a problem that affect more than just the individuals afflicted with them. When people are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the abuse not only creates issues in their lives, but it also causes pain, heartache, or even trauma for their loved ones. Whether it is the young child of someone addicted to crystal meth who is removed from the home, or the spouse who has witnessed her partner suffer the detrimental consequences of alcoholism, or the parents who suddenly lose their adolescent child to an opiate overdose, addiction is a disease that has a long lasting impact on the entire family unit. And while we mostly think about treatment and recovery for the individual with the substance use disorder diagnosis, we tend to forget about the loved ones. Their pain is often overlooked. When addiction rips families apart, it creates deep wounds.

External support can be helpful, in some cases even necessary, to process the damage that the substances and the behaviors associated with use have caused. Luckily, there are organizations dedicated to support loved-ones of those dealing with addiction. Al-Anon is a mutual help group that was created in the early 1950s whose mission it is to “help friends and families of alcoholics (…) by welcoming and giving comfort to families and friends of alcoholics.”  Similarly, Alateen was founded to help teens cope with the effects of parental drinking. Other organizations like Nar-Anon are dedicated to help friends and family of those abusing other substances. In addition, there are local groups around central Ohio. If you or someone you know could benefit from supportive services, check out the following website with local resources: