Those who live with addicts may find that they live in constant fear or worry. They may be afraid of saying or doing something that will cause the addicted individual to blow up or become aggressive. Constantly second-guessing yourself can be very stressful and can eventually take its toll. There are many problems in households where addiction is present. Below are a few examples:
In homes where one or more people are suffering from addiction, decision-making can be a nightmare. It is often the case of whoever shouts the loudest becoming the victor it is often the person with the addiction. Those who do not have strong personalities may have to learn to become manipulative to get what they need. This can have a profound effect on all involved. Unfortunately, these patterns of behaviour can persist even after the addicted person or persons have sought help and are in recovery.
In a normal functional family, members tend to discuss issues that will affect everyone and they have a calm and sensible conversation about how to tackle the problem. In most cases, the decision will be one that will benefit most of the familys needs and wishes.
In families affected by addiction, it is not uncommon for emotions to be buried. Many family members prefer to keep their feelings in check because they are afraid of how others will react. Feelings are generally not discussed either within the family unit or outside it. Each person may be dealing with a host of raw emotions such as guilt, blame, shame, and embarrassment but will put on a brave face and pretend that everything is okay.
In families not affected by addiction, it is more common for feelings and emotions to be discussed and dealt with. Most people these days know that it is healthy to open up and talk to others rather than bottling things up.
In a dysfunctional family, controlling others is often a significant problem. Addicts tend to try to control and manipulate others to allow them to continue with their addictive behaviour. Spouses and children of addicts are often bound by set rules about what they can and cannot do. Family members may all try to control various aspects of their lives and relationships without realising that, in reality, it is the addiction that controls every single one of them.
In non-addicted families, members will have respect for each other and will not feel the need to control one another.
Addicted families often experience life on the edge and everything they do is done to the extreme. There is no focus on family traditions or goals. The only thing that matters is the addiction, and it takes over everyones lives. Children do not know what is expected of them and they are rarely encouraged to do well in school or think about their future.
Families unaffected by addiction have a clear focus on the future and parents may know what they want for their children. They have values that they will try to impart to their children as they are growing up.
Adult Children of Addicts
If you have grown up in a home where one or both parents suffered from addiction, the above problems may be familiar to you. You might not know what is considered normal in terms of bringing up a family because of the issues you experienced yourself. If you want to raise your children in a healthy manner, it is a good idea to do some research, which will give you a clearer picture of how a healthy, happy family behaves.