Why is Addiction so Prominent in Families?

America has seen some serious changes over the years and one thing that’s seen some interesting changes is the family structure. In America, it used to be traditional and common to have the nuclear family unit but over the years and last several decades, nuclear families have become much less common than they used to be. In fact, now we see several different types of family structures.

Now, we’ve seen the shift towards single-parent families, multi-generational families, and step-families, in addition to the nuclear family. We know that addiction has a huge effect on families, but it may affect some families different than others due to family structure.

All families have a unique way of reacting to addiction according to structure. Any family may have members that step up into the “super hero” role where one person takes on everything to keep the family going and the addiction hidden. Some families may experience the loss of one parent due to the addiction, not meaning death, but meaning separation or divorce. Children may be moved around, neglected, ill cared for, or if they’re at the age where they have some independence can be put into the caretaker role themselves, either of their siblings or the person with addiction.

Scientists who’ve been studying the effects of drug abuse, dependence, or addiction on different family structures, are convinced there are huge differences. Even those families who live together with multiple generations find that addiction has different intergenerational effects.

Addiction has a huge range from people who have had a short bout of abuse or dependence to those who’ve seen the far depths of addiction for years and years. For some, their entire adult lives have been spent, starting even in early adolescent years, abusing or being dependent on addiction.

The answer to why addiction is so prominent through out families is a tough one that researchers are still studying hard but what we do know is that the effects of addiction spread far and wide through families that must face it.

N.D. “Chapter 2 Impact of Substance Abuse on Families”. National Institute on Health. (website). 2018

  • 5 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • Research has come a way, but has a ways to go on a lot of levels...

    Thank you for sharing.
  • I believe genetics plays a big part, too. I've seen too many families where addiction "runs in the family" to believe that heredity doesn't play a role.
  • @AlwaysAlex i see your point... definitely some genetics come into play... it's very interesting to study the family dynamics. so many factors come into play.
  • I have a long history of alcoholism in my family, too, @AlwaysAlex. On both sides. I knew about my side of the family history, but my wife is adopted; so for a long time we didn't have any idea about her side of the family. But she found her birth mother a few years ago and now we know the rest of the story. Thankfully, I was able to stop drinking before I reached the alcoholic stage. Unfortunately, both of my sons have issues with addiction. I believe genetics plays a huge role.
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