“Is Addiction a Family Disease?”

For those families that have not been affected by the disease of addiction the understanding of how this disease affects the total family would be difficult to comprehend. But, for those families that have been affected by this disease it becomes quickly apparent how this disease becomes a family disease. Addiction can be viewed as a family disease in two very distinct perspectives. First the question that begs to be asked is addiction a disease that has genetic links? When researching many clients it is very common to note that addiction in one form or another can be traced to other family members. Grandparents, parents, siblings etc. when doing a family history it becomes apparent that addiction has been in place in the family tree.

Often times when evaluating a person being treated for addiction issues, the review of the family dynamics brings one down two distinctive roads. One that often times finds the family member is a result of their environment. The family environment can be one of a highly dysfunctional family with a history of addiction within the family unit. So it is not unusual to see a family member with addiction issues usually coupled with other behavioral pathologies resulting in a dual diagnosis. So under this scenario one can easily state that addiction is a family disease.

The second road to be traveled to determine if addiction is a family disease can be presented as follows. The family member comes from a loving and caring family. One in which the family performs in a reasonably functional manner and yet a family member is now in the arms of addiction. The manner in which this disease affects all family members, one could certainly argue makes this a family disease. The interactions of the addicted member and their affect on the rest of the family would also certainly classify this as a family disease. The despair, concern, fear, helplessness and financial burden(for treatment & legal issues) and often times shame makes this truly a family disease. Many times those affected by addiction do not realize how their behaviors negatively impact the rest of the family unit. The strain on the rest of the family in dealing with all the issues surrounding the loved one with an active addiction can make the most functional families dysfunctional in a relatively short time.

So, I think we can say with a high degree of certainty that addiction truly is a family disease.

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