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

  • 6 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.
  • To quote my bio on this very forum........ Alcoholic from a long line of alcoholics. Some say its genetic I say its greed........

    So um, yeah, im going with genes. See, in my family its very hard to look back and find members who were not affected by this curse. So it is really stating the obvious for me.
  • @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.
  • @Dominica Sometimes its embedded in culture as well. Did you know that the ancient Persians used to decide government decisions twice, once sober, and once drunk? Or that once upon a time every house in the Republic of Eire used have its own home brewing area? All this was a very long time ago ofcourse but one needs not look any further than Ireland today to use as a marker of how alcohol can take over and completly blind an entire nation. Its the elephant in the room, they even have members in their parliment who actively encourage drink driving! One Of the Td's in County Kerry if my mind serves me well. It is also estimated that Eire has the most tee totalers in the world per capita, yet have one of the highest rates of consumption per capita, anywhere in the world. Now this of course leads us to a very interesting finding, and that is that those who are drinking way too excessivley are also drinking what the teetotalers are not as well!
    I also once was told a story of an example of the blind denial over there, check this....
    Anyway this guy, he drank his whole life, drink killed him, his liver failed. Anyway after the funeral his family and friends go to the pub for his wake, to give him the send off he deserves. In Ireland people drink for every reason you can think of, hapiness, sadness and always in that bit in between, I call this the juicy bit. Anyway, while everyone is drinking away no one seems to think about this scenario for even a second, how bizarre and very distasteful it all is.

    This, my friends, is denial on a national scale in a nutshell without mentioning the 8 people who die each week as a direct result of alcohol. Others who are indirectly affected by the actions of these selfish people runs into thousands of people every single day. Think about that while you wait in accident and emergency for 8 hours with nothing but the smell of stale booze wafting around the waiting room.
    Lets blame the health service, lol, lets blame the police, lol, lets blame anyone but what the cause actually is.

    Just carry on regardless lads.
  • 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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