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How Do Addictions Affect the

Family Dynamic?
Imani Rochelle, Julia Parsons & Mackenzie Hickman
What is Addiction?
A primary, chronic disease of brain reward,
motivation, memory and related circuitry.

● Characterized by inability to consistently

abstain, impairment in behavioral control,
craving, diminished recognition of
significant problems with one’s behaviors
and interpersonal relationships, and a
dysfunctional emotional response.

Fig 1. - Struggles with Addiction


(American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2011)

Physical Effects of Addiction
● Weakened immune system
● Heart conditions
● Nausea & abdominal pain
● Increased strain on liver (alcoholics)
● Seizure or stroke
● Lung disease

Entertainment, The AIO. YouTube, YouTube, 1 May

Types of Addiction
Substance Addiction Behavioral Addiction

● Alcohol, prescription drugs, legal highs ● Behavioural addictions can vary and
and illegal drugs are all substances that include eating disorders, sex and
one can become addicted too and even if codependency, shopping, gaming and
a substance is not regarded as addictive it gambling.
can still cause a user to become

(ADT Healthcare, 2018)

“Effects Of Drug Use
On The Brain 2018
Images & Pictures.”
Addiction and the Brain
The Pleasure Principle: the release of the
neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens.

● a cluster of nerve cells lying underneath the

cerebral cortex.

Dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens is so

consistently tied with pleasure that neuroscientists refer
to the region as the brain's pleasure center.
Fig 2.- Picture of the brain
Source: “Drugs & Brain
“Hijacking” the Brain
Drugs interfere with the way neurons send, receive, and process signals via
● Drugs that may be addictive target your brain’s reward system. They flood your
brain with a chemical called dopamine. This triggers a feeling of intense pleasure.
When you use drugs for a long time, it can cause changes in other brain chemical systems
and circuits as well.
● Judgement
● Memory Fig 3. -
● Decision making visual.
Parts of the Brain affected
Basal ganglia: positive forms of motivation, including the pleasurable effects of healthy
activities like eating, socializing. Also helps establishing routines.

Extended amygdala: plays a role in stressful feelings like anxiety, irritability, and

● Characterizes withdrawal

Prefrontal cortex: powers the ability to think, plan, solve problems, make decisions,
and exert self-control over impulses.
Fig 4. - Showcasing where parts of
the brain are affected.
A biological response to when the body receives too much of a substance
Depressant overdose: come in several different categories, including legal and socially
approved intoxicants.
● Alcohol
● Heroin
Stimulant overdose: often called “uppers,” are the kinds of drug that make people feel
supercharged with energy and focus.
● Caffeine
● Nicotine
Overdose Statistics in NC

Fig 5. - Graph showing statistics on overdose death in NC

Source: “North Carolina Opioid Summary”
“The Sad Results of Parental
Drug Abuse |.” California
Addiction Rehab Centers, 9
Mar. 2016,

Figure 6. The Sad Results of

Parental Drug Abuse; 2015
Why Do Some People Become Addicted and Others Don’t?
A combination of factors can increase the risk of addiction:

● Biology
○ Gender, ethnicity, and presence of other mental disorders
● Environment
○ Influences from family, friends, economic status, general quality of life, peer pressure, physical and
sexual abuse, early exposure for drugs, stress, and parental guidance
● Development
○ Typically problematic for teens
○ Decision making, judgement, self-control, risky behaviors

(National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018)

So, how does this affect families?

Fig 7. -Graphic explaining how addiction affects families

Source: “Addiction and Families”
Addictions & Family Roles
● The Enabler: Takes care of all the things the addict has left undone (finances,
children), frequently in denial
● The Hero: Takes on responsibilities in the home that exceed their developmental
stage (usually an older child)
● The Scapegoat: Usually a child who continually misbehaves at school and
displays defiant tendencies
● The Mascot: Uses humor as a coping mechanism (knows their humor may bring a
momentary sense of relief)
● The Lost Child: Isolated from other family members and has trouble developing
● The addict: Usually feel great shame and remorse because they know what they’re
putting their family through, they just can't stop it
Spouses of Addicts
A relationship where one partner is sober:

● The sober partner tries to keep the house and relationships in order
● Higher divorce rates

A relationship where both partners are addicts:

● Allows both partners to feed off, and enable the other

● Lower divorce rate, but the relationship is still toxic
Parents of Addicts
When their child is still in the house, they have the power, and can get the addict the
help they need

● Often blame themselves for their child's addiction

● Often the ones who pick up the slack in parental duties

Fig. 8- Graphic showing

children raised by
“The Impact of Substance
Substance Abuse Affects

Fig. 9: Graphic showing substance abuse effects

Source- “Guide For
How To Approach the Problem
● Ask sensitive questions
● Approach the subject with with a non judgemental, compassionate attitude
● If communication breaks down between family members, it may be time to reach
out for professional guidance

Fig 10: Graphic of the goals of intervention Source: guide-for-families-i “Guide for Families”
Intervention Success Rates
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and
Drug Dependence, interventions are successful 90
percent of the time when they are conducted with the
help of a trained professional.
● Individual is likely to return to destructive
Family members who participate in the intervention
must be ready to follow through with expectations or
consequences Fig. 11: graphic showing success rate of
intervention w/ trained professional
Source: guide-for-families-i “Guide For
The National Institute on Drug Abuse Blog Team. "Brain and Addiction." Dec. 2014. Brain and Addiction Web. 26 Nov. 2018

Brande, Lauren. “Long-Term Drug Addiction Effects.” 2018. American Addiction Center. Web. 26 Nov. 2018

The National Institute on Drug Abuse Blog Team. "Understanding Drug Use and Addiction." Dec. 2014. Brain and Addiction Web. 26 Nov. 2018

ADT Healthcare. “Understanding different types of Addiction.” 2012. Types of Addiction Web. 29 Nov. 2018

American Society of Addiction Medicine. “Definition of Addiction.” 12 Apr. 2011. Resources Web. 30 Nov. 2018

Behavioral Health. “The Impact of Substance Abuse and Addiction on Families.” 01 Dec. 2018. Substance Abusers.