The more we learn about addiction, the more we realize how much the family dynamic plays a part in it. A majority of addiction cases reveal that the addict has one or more family members who are either addicted themselves or have been affected by addiction in their lives. This is a very important factor to consider in treating addiction and in understanding addiction. It means that the family’s health can only be sustained if the family confronts the addiction problem as a unit.
The members or member of a family who are addicted are the ones initiating the dynamic of addiction onto the family. They are not to blame for their addiction problem because addiction is a legitimate disease, however, they are responsible for initiating a change to their lifestyle because no one but them can end the cycle of addiction.
The addict’s spouse or life partner suffers immensely due to the addiction problem. The partner of a spouse lives within a marriage of broken dreams and fruitless expectations. Their reality is disappointment until their partner takes the initiative to change. Some partners of addicts spend their lives waiting for change and it never comes. This is the sad reality of addiction. A spouse may also be a fellow addict, in which case the marriage and the household will be wrought with dysfunction.
The children of addicts are the ones who suffer the most. A partner at least has the option to leave, so long as they are mentally sound enough to recognize this option. Children, however, are dependent on their parents for provision and example, even if the parent is an addict. Parents who are addicts can be hurtful, abusive, neglectful and dangerous. Mental health experts have discovered that the children of addicts are likely to be withdrawn, dysfunctional and experience problems with addiction themselves.
Other close family members are likely to go through anxiety, depression and anger over their loved one’s problem. Every family unit reacts differently. Some come together over the addict and fight for their recovery while others crumble and scatter, no being able to perceive recovery.