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NIDA. (2018, October 22). Drug Use Hurts Families. Retrieved from

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The NIDA Blog Team
October 22 2018

A person who uses drugs can run into all kinds of problems at work, school, and home. But did you know that drug use—and its consequences—can also hurt the person’s family?

That doesn’t mean that the person using drugs wants to hurt the family. It just means that the brain disease called addiction can lead to real-world problems that, sooner or later, affect family members’ lives in a very disruptive way.

Ripple effects

For example, someone who has a problem with drugs might buy the drugs with money that was set aside for the family’s rent, food, or transportation.

Or, drug use could lead to problems at work that result in the person losing a job. Unemployment, in turn, might reduce the income or benefits (like health insurance) that a family needs. Families might have to dip into college or retirement savings to help their loved one get treatment, which can be very expensive.

Unfortunately, sometimes drug use can lead to even more serious problems like divorce, complicated medical issues, domestic or child abuse, or death. Any of these can create challenges for families and heartache for years to come.  

Vicious cycle

The person using drugs may feel guilty or ashamed of the addiction and the troubles it brings loved ones. Sometimes, this can create a vicious cycle where shame makes drug use even harder for the person to resist.

This all sounds heavy, and it is. But there’s another side to the story: If someone you love has a problem with drug use, there are ways you can try to help them or find help for them.

Learn more: How to take care of yourself while you’re trying to help others.