Why is Addiction Called a Family Disease?


Family photo

Addiction is a severe condition, a disease which simultaneously affects the mind and body.  A person suffering from addiction has extreme obsessions about a specific drug or high.  The cravings can often be so intense the individual experiencing them eventually capitulates because they are unable to resist the urges.  The seeking, using, lying, and manipulating usually comes at the cost of others closest to the person, which can be why addiction is referred to as a family disease.

While it can be easy to blame the person who is an addict or alcoholic, the entire family usually contributes to the continuation of the disease.  A person in their addiction can be quite manipulative and convincing, and family members often have a difficult time saying no.  The lies an addict or alcoholic tells are so frequent that you may find it hard to determine when they are telling the truth.  They may say they need money for food or bills, but you know they are actually using the money to purchase more drugs.  

Codependent relationships happen very frequently with addicts and their families.  The unhealthy dynamic develops over time and results in resentment and anger between all the family members.  Most often, loved ones simply cannot understand why the individual won’t stop using.  You may fight for their attention, doing things you think could or should please them, but nothing you do seems to be good enough.  The only way a person suffering from addiction seems to show any sort of regard is when you do things for their benefit, such as giving them money or buying them alcohol.  Being that addiction can last months or years, these behaviors can permanently change the dynamic of a family.  The family member will try exhaustively for years to offer help to the person suffering, only to constantly be rejected.  All the effort which is put towards the sick individual is attention taken away from other important relationships in the family.  

The stress that family members of addicts and alcoholics take on is huge.  You might always be worried about where your loved one is and if they are alive.  Long-term anxiety and stress can take a serious toll on a person’s physical and mental health.  Severe stress can cause elevated blood pressure and heart rate, all of which could lead to heart disease or stroke.  Anxiety disorders and depression can develop from dealing with a family member who is an addict, as well.  An addict doesn’t have a choice whether to use or not, just as you feel you don’t have a choice not to worry.  Addiction removes all ability to control a person’s impulses, so the healthiest thing you can do for you and your family member is learn when to say no.    

The answer to recovery is Simple. Our multi-tiered program is designed to help your loved one find success on a new path in life through school, work, and meaningful volunteering. Structured for progress, clients at Simple Recovery transition seamlessly through each phase of their recovery. For information on our full continuum of care options for recovery from addiction and co-occurring mental health, call us today: 888-743-0490