Addiction 101

Impacts of addiction

Addiction can affect all parts of a person's life, including their physical health, brain function, emotional well-being, finances, work life and social relationships, including with family. Each family member is uniquely affected by a person’s substance use or gambling problem. It may be helpful to think of the family as a mobile: when one part of a hanging mobile moves, it affects all parts of the mobile in different ways. Each part adjusts to maintain a balance in the system (Lander et al., 2013).

Families and friends are significantly impacted by loved ones’ substance use problems in various ways.

Some effects on the family may include:

    denial or minimization of the problem
    pre-occupation with the person using substances
    changing and unpredictable roles within relationships
    the tendency to rescue and protect the person using substances
    difficulties fulfilling regular responsibilities (e.g., work)
    conflict and deterioration of family relationships
    attempts to monitor, control and change the person using substances
    loss of trust in the person using substances
    withdrawal and social isolation
    loss of security or safety (e.g., financial security or physical safety)
    abuse and exploitation by the person using substances
    self-neglect and burnout.

Addiction 101 © , CAMH.