If left untreated, the destructive effects of drug addiction eventually damage every aspect of the addict’s life. Drug use consumes the addict’s existence. Responsibilities and moral standards fall by the wayside. The repercussions of addiction reverberate throughout the social, familial and vocational areas of the addict’s life, with disastrous consequences.
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Alienation from friends and family increases the addict’s sense of hopelessness. Sometimes, the loss of supportive relationships is the final blow that pushes an addict to seek help. Other times, the addict attempts to cope by falling deeper into addiction.
Effect on Family Relationships
Addiction causes heartache and hardship for family members, and its effects can sometimes be passed down through generations, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Substance-abusing parents serve as negative role models to children, who grow up with no positive examples upon which to base their own eventual parenting skills.
Spouses and children of addicts are more often the victims of domestic abuse. Financial hardships can also impact the family, caused by the addict's need to buy drugs, as well as from his inability to find consistent employment.
The family of an addict often exists under a veil of denial. They struggle to present a positive public image, while secretly living in shame and fear.
Effect on Peer Relationships
Addiction often causes the addict’s disapproving friends to distance themselves. Alternately, the addict may abandon non-addicted friends in favor of those who share and endorse their addictive habits.
In the company of other addicts, drug use begins to seem normal. Addicts will often neglect their family duties to share the company of those who won’t interfere with their drug use. The stability of these addictive friendships is tenuous. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that within groups of alcohol-abusing friends, incidents of violent crimes are disproportionately high.
Effect on Professional Relationships
According to SAMHSA, addiction damages work relationships, in that co-workers are often forced to cover up for the addict’s failure to share the workload. This causes resentment of the addict in the workplace.
Addicts are absent from work more often. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, lost work productivity due to drug use cost the United States over $128 billion in 2002 alone.
The effects of addiction in the workplace often lead to termination of the addict’s employment. Unemployment may drive the addict even deeper into self-destructive behaviors, further destroying their chances at finding employment, as the vicious cycle of addiction continues.