For those struggling with substance use, their mind and body are not only impacted during use, but long after use. It is not uncommon for those struggling with addiction to have developed a psychological and a physical dependence on the substance. Today this diagnosis continues to be misunderstood and it is important to understand that science has shown that addiction is a disease and one that is commonly passed down genetically in families.

Substance use disorder is defined as the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs, which causes significant impairment be it physically, emotionally, functionally, or within various environments such a family, work, or school. Addiction is more than a compulsive use of a substance, it is caused by a complex set of circumstances that when compounded impacts an individual's ability to cope with daily life.
If you find yourself asking questions about addiction such as, "What really causes addiction?", "Why isn't what we are doing working?", consider watching the video below addressing these concerns. This TED Talk examines how environmental circumstances and shifts in relationships and support can dramatically impact the success of recovery.
Finding ways to live with, cope with and manage your own emotions around a loved one with an addiction can be overwhelming, frustrating, and even feel defeating. Al-Anon is a mutual support program for people whose lives have been affected by someone else's drinking. By sharing common experiences and applying the Al-Anon principles, families and friends of alcoholics can bring positive changes to their individual situations, whether or not the alcoholic admits the existence of a drinking problems or seeks help. Find a group near you here!
- Get Your Loved One Sober by Meyers & Wolfe
- The Friends and Family Portal
SAMHSA, Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy, defines the following as impacts substance use has on a family.

Negativism. Any communication that occurs among family members is negative, taking the form of complaints, criticism, and other expressions of displeasure. The overall mood of the household is decidedly downbeat, and positive behavior is ignored. In such families, the only way to get attention or enliven the situation is to create a crisis. This negativity may serve to reinforce the substance abuse.

Parental inconsistency. Rule setting is erratic, enforcement is inconsistent, and family structure in inadequate. Children are confused because they cannot figure out the boundaries between right and wrong. As a result, they may behave badly in the hope of getting their parents to set clearly defined boundaries. Without known limits, children cannot predict parental responses and adjust their behavior accordingly. These inconsistencies tend to be present regardless of whether the person abusing is a parent or child and they create a sense on confusion- a key factor- in the children.

Parental denial.
Despite obvious warning signs, the parental stance is: (1) "what drug/alcohol problem? We don't see any drug problem!" or (2) after authorities intervene: "You are wrong! My child does not have a drug problem!"

Miscarried expression of anger.
Children or parents who resent their emotionally deprived home and are afraid to express their outrage use drug abuse as one way to manage their repressed anger.

Either a parent or child will use drugs or alcohol to cope with intolerable thoughts or feelings, such as severe anxiety or depression.

Unrealistic parental expectations. If parental expectations are unrealistic, children can excuse themselves from all future expectations by saying, in essence, "You can't expect anything of me-I'm just a pothead/speed freak/junkie." Alternatively, they may work obsessively to overachieve, all the while feeling that no matter what they do, it is never good enough, or they may jokes and clown to deflect the pain or may withdraw to side-step the pain. If expectations are too low, and children are told throughout youth that they will certainly fail, they tend to conform their behavior to their parents' predictions, unless meaningful adults intervene with healthy, positive and supportive messages.

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