It’s Sunday afternoon.
She sits on the porch, waiting on Dad to pick her up for their visits. It’s been eight Sundays now and he hasn’t come.
She hasn’t heard from him since Tuesday when he wanted to borrow $100. He’s her only son, so why wouldn’t she be looking out for him?
Why wouldn’t he wonder why his daughter locks herself away? She used to come out for family night all the time.
Family — those who are affected the most when a loved one develops a substance use disorder.
Those struggling with addiction don’t intend to lose relationships or cause harm, but that’s what the disease does. It steals everything good and beautiful in life.
A key trait of SUD is starting to lose relationships due to loss of interest in people, places or things that once brought joy. The substance is the only joy at this point, and becomes a new relationship. The addict will withdraw and isolate themselves, deepening the loss of relationship. Family and friends feel pained as their relationship with the addict becomes more and more distant.
As addiction progresses, mistrust grows.
Emotional turmoil and negative mindsets can sprout as loved ones begin to question their self-worth. Depression and anxiety are prevalent among family members. Among marriages, there’s a link to higher divorce rates as well as an increase of abuse and domestic violence.
An estimated one in five adults lived with a family member with SUD during childhood.
The emotional toll on children is great. They can experience poor self-image, guilt, loneliness, anxiety, fear, feelings of abandonment and chronic depression. SUD during pregnancy can result in developmental delays. They are at greater risk for behavioral and emotional issues and are four times more likely to develop SUD later in life.
As children grow into adults, they are more likely to find themselves in relationships with someone who struggles with SUD.
Another aspect of how SUD impacts a family is the financial security and well-being. Financial damage causes children to often be uneducated, malnourished and lacking basic necessities. Ultimately, it creates additional distress and discord within the family.
From another perspective, parents of addicts often find themselves full of doubt and blame on how they raised their child or for somehow causing the disease. Many times parents take on the role of caretaker for the addict or in parenting their grandchildren, adding additional pressure and stress to grandparents.
The repercussions of addiction on a family are astronomical.
Each person in the family experiences loss and hurt. The most important thing the family can do is speak up and reach out to bring awareness to the issues of addiction and to end the shame and guilt everyone is carrying.
Reaching out for resources and support offers an opportunity for families to heal.
If you or a loved one need support, there are several local resources available. A Bridge to Hope is a nonprofit organization assisting people with substance use disorders in Kosciusko County by offering referrals to resources.
Contact A Bridge to Hope at (855) 807-4673.
The next article of the series will be published next week Wednesday, May 29, in The Mail-Journal and on InkFreeNews.com.