Drugs and alcohol addiction have obvious and well-documented effects on substance abusers. Prolonged abuse of drugs and alcohol will worsen a person’s physical health, damage his/her mental functioning, and impair their overall spirit. But how will these unfavorable elements affect the addict’s family, friends, and coworkers, and how will the damage evident itself? The impact of substance abuse on loved ones is more impactful than you may imagine. Regularly, they are likely to experience problems related to the condition. Financial issues are likely to pop up due to not only the cost of supporting an addiction but also the loss of productivity and regular work hours due to increased illness, hangovers and other adverse effects.

Financial and social problems

Families and others that depend on a sufferer of substance abuse are likely to experience issues related to financial problems caused by drinking and drug-taking habits. The costs of alcohol and drugs increase as the addict builds a tolerance to the drug in his/her system. The psychological effects of this substance tolerance and dependency may cause the victim to become less-supportive and withdrawn to colleagues, family members, and friends. They may no longer go to social functions that do not permit drinking and may not be aware of their behavior if attending services where their choice of drugs is allowed. Lack of networking and communication with family and peers may cause other financial problems if the victim loses promotion opportunities which might require a spouse or roommate to get extra hours or a second job to a manageable level.

Relationship problems

The constant distraction, drowsiness, and skepticism experienced by those suffering the effect of substance abuse are likely to cause problems for anyone they are in a relationship with. People who find themselves in a romantic relationship with a substance addict may end up giving excuses for their lack of improper conduct or attendance at social functions. Substance addicts may have problems with non-drinkers or those who do not share their propensity for drinking in excess, and they may strive to convince friends and loved ones to join them in drinking. This can also lead to additional problems as others experience the provocations faced by having an addict in their circle of relationships.

Family problems

Family members depend strongly on one another for support. This involves both emotional and financial support, which drug and alcohol abuse can erode over time. Children may also experience neglect or mental and physical abuse as a parent loses the realization of their actions due to the outcome of substance abuse. Children also find problems with their social development due to an addicted parent becoming unwilling to support the child’s endeavor. This can range from mixed events, such as birthday parties or soccer games to outright neglect.

Support organizations

This exists for family members and friends of an addict due to the problems created by the addiction. Al-Anon Family Groups and other similar organizations offer to help people in situations like these and understand their role in the community. Groups basically focus on helping loved ones or acquaintances realize that they are not responsible for the actions and behavior of an addict. Many of these groups also offer training on how to help a loved one come to grips with the situation and facing the problems that now affect the family, relationships, and business.

We’ve been able to discuss some of the reasons that can cause an individual to get addicted to drugs and alcohol and the possible effects on their family members, friends, coworkers, and loved ones. So now, let’s discuss the impacts of addiction on relatives and friends.

How addiction impacts children

According to psychology today, 1 out of 5 children grow up in a home where a parent abuses alcohol or drugs; observing the trauma of a parent suffering from addiction at a young age has long term effects on the child. Children growing up seeing a parent addicted to alcohol or drug are more likely to develop substance use disorders in their adulthood. Some children are still enhancing their personality and are vulnerable to external influences; they take the risk of repeating such behaviors. Children may be exposed to violent behavior due to a parent or both parent’s substance use. Early exposure to a home divided by drug use can make the child feel unsafe, physically, and emotionally neglected. Children may develop extreme self-blame and guilt for a parent’s substance abuse. In most cases, children can be removed from the home and placed in foster care.

How addiction affects a partner

Addiction can pose the biggest threat to a marriage, and in most cases, the sober spouse is often left picking up the pieces. Financial strain, cheating, lying, social withdrawal, legal problems, communication issues, unpredictable mood swings, episodes of violence and an inability to consistently fulfill household and occupational obligations can cause a person to get addicted to drugs and alcohol. Someone struggling with addiction may lose their job, stay out late or get into trouble. As a result of all these, they transfer aggression towards their spouse and engage in unnecessary arguments, marital rape, neighborhood harassment, etc. The victim may also decide to shift the blame onto the non-addicted partner producing an intense feeling of guilt and shame.

How addiction affects parents

No matter how old the kids in a family are, realizing that your children have an addiction problem can be very unpleasant and heartbreaking. Parents can seem to crumble when they have a son or a daughter who is a drug or alcohol addict. They fall out with each other over how to handle the situation; while in some cases, other sons and daughters can get blamed for being a bad influence. This may have negative effects by causing parents to question the decisions they’ve made as a parent. Parents tend to blame themselves for the development of substance use disorder.

How addiction affects friends

The friends of someone struggling with drug and alcohol addiction often feel like they are pressured to engage in an act as their friend. In the case of an addict, it may mean that they feel the pressure to partake in the same substance abuse. This is because friends want to be able to relate to their other friends. However, this pressure towards drug and alcohol abuse can lead them down the path of addiction also, which will make recovery more difficult for both parties. This is one of the more transmissible qualities of addiction.

How addiction affects co-workers

It’s no big secret that drugs and alcohol addiction can have a very negative effect on our personality. As your job performance begins to suffer in your struggle with addiction due to changes in your personality, your reliability might start to suffer. In this case, your co-workers are going to be much less likely to approach you about job responsibilities or sometimes come to doubt your ability to get work done. This will make you less active, which could further alienate you and possibly put your job at stake. Sadly, addiction comes with a stigma and often repulses people. This should not necessarily be the case, but it is a fact. Addiction can easily estrange you from the people you work with.


A good percentage of people in contact with a substance abuser is impacted in some way. The impact of addiction is rarely limited solely to the addict. Everyone around him or her is affected one way or the other. Frequently, the people who spend the most time around people struggling with substance abuse are family members, friends, and co-workers. That’s why they are the ones who are most likely to be affected by their alcoholism or drug addiction. Family members, especially non-addicted spouses, are forced to pick up the slack for the addict, make excuses for his/her behaviors, and in other ways to account for the ignored responsibilities by the addict. Children suffer in school and are most likely to be involved with alcohol and drug addiction as adults, which does affect their future lives and the lives of their families to-be. Co-workers are not always close to the addict, but they may also be affected by having to increase their workloads to make up for diminished job performances. Nearly every person in contact with a substance abuser is impacted in some way. The recovery is also most victorious when the family members and friends closest to the substance abuser gets involved. Since the effects of drugs and alcohol addiction on friends and family members are so strong, addiction recovery needs to heal the entire team.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.