By: Chelsea Vaughn


I Think There’s Something Wrong in my Family


What do you do when you can tell something is not quite right with your spouse, but you’re not sure what it is? You notice they’ve been gone a lot more. Sometimes there is some money missing, but things seem pretty normal for the most part. But you still have that weird feeling in your gut. 

On the flip side of that, parents of substance-abusing children can spend countless hours wondering where their child is, if they’re ok or alive, dealing with things like theft, missing school, or even legal issues in some cases. It’s no secret that it’s an endless cycle of chaos and worry for the family, no matter who the user is.

Many enemies threaten families in today’s society. Sometimes, it may feel like we are being hit from all angles as we try to shelter our children, keep our marriages together, and make sure the family is still functioning while doing all of the above. Talk about multi-tasking! Unfortunately, one of the biggest hazards to the family, substance abuse, is also largely unseen. A user can often hide their addiction and make it appear as if everything is normal or manipulate situations so that the family thinks that they are the ones doing something wrong.  


I Don’t Trust People with the Information


Usually, by the time family members notice a loved one is using, the user may already be deep in the grasps of the addiction. Even then, many families won’t admit to extended family or friends that there is an issue.

If a parent is using, it can have devastating effects on their spouse and children. As mentioned in this article from AddictionCenter, addicts become very consumed with themselves and often forget what is going on with the rest of their families. 

Addiction leads to job loss, financial consequences, and even loss of shelter, food, or lives in extreme cases. The damage is done not only to the addict but also to those trying to support the addict.

Children raised in these environments are exposed to trauma at a young age. They may see violent behavior, witness drug use, become familiar with paraphernalia, and sometimes abuse by strangers in the house. Statistically, they are three times more likely to experience abuse than children who come from drug-free homes.


I’m Afraid of the Stigma for my Family Member


So, what can be done to stop this problem? As nice as it would be to get rid of all the mood-altering drugs in the world, we all know that’s not a realistic option. An excellent place to start would be to make education and communication about drugs less taboo.

Many spouses or family members are not willing to reach out for help because they feel they will be judged. It’s hard to let people know about the struggles. Not talking about the addiction can enable the user by protecting them from the consequences of others knowing about their drug use.

Education about addiction is the key to changing the lives of both addicts and their loved ones. A large portion of society believes that addiction is chosen by the addict and is simply the consequence of a wrong choice. While this may be true to some extent, recent research indicates that genetics may play as much as 40-60% in the role of the likelihood of developing an addiction. Perhaps if more people were aware of this, it could help remove the stigma. 


Genetics Play an Important Role


We don’t have any choice as to what tendencies we are prone to genetically. Furthermore, addiction has been reclassified as a disease in the DSM-5 (used by professionals who treat it) under Substance Use Disorder. It is recommended that it be treated like any other disease.

We can further contribute to this education by helping families learn valuable coping skills. Each family member will react differently to the crisis and may need a counselor or therapist. Teaching them how to find outside resources such as professional counselor, therapist or support groups can help lessen the traumatic effects the family experiences. With the help of trained professionals, the family can set boundaries that will provide them with safety. If these should fail, the professionals can help the family come to terms with either leaving or having the active addict removed from the home.  


Help Where You Can


If you have friends or family struggling with addiction, you can do your part to help them first by educating yourself. Don’t judge or stereotype them; find out what you can do to help make a difference for them. Help them find local resources and professionals if they are unable to. Often, spouses or children in these circumstances just need support. Talk to them, and listen to what they’re going through.

You never know if you will be the one that will give them the courage to take the next step that may completely change their lives.


Bio: Chelsea Vaughn


Addiction: It's Devastating for Every Family from addict 2 advocate marilyn l davis

Chelsea has previous experience dealing with the struggles and consequences of substance abuse and understands how difficult it is to find resources. Because of this, she has a strong desire to help others through their recovery journey.

She is passionate about advocating for those who may not have a voice or don’t know where to turn for help.

To facilitate others, she is in the process of completing school to become a clinical therapist and hopes that she can be both an advocate and resource in her community.





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Addiction: It's Devastating for Every Family from addict 2 advocate marilyn l davis

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