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Topic 5 – Effects of Problematic Substance Use on Families

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The family is the primary source of attachment, nurturing, and socialization for humans in our current society. Therefore, the impact of problematic substance use on the family and individual family members merits attention. Each family and each family member is uniquely affected by the individual using substances including but not limited to:

  • having unmet developmental needs,
  • impaired attachment,
  • economic hardship,
  • legal problems,
  • emotional distress, and
  • sometimes violence witnessed by or directed at family members.

For children there is also an increased risk of developing problematic substance use themselves.

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Treating the individual without family involvement may limit the effectiveness of treatment for two main reasons:

  1. It ignores the devastating impact of problematic use on the family system leaving family members untreated
  2. It does not recognize the family as a potential system of support for change.

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