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Drug abuse affects your family in ways that are harmful and damaging, but your teen isn’t abusing drugs out of malice. Addiction is a disease that compels them to seek out and take drugs, despite the negative consequences. Once a teenager is addicted to drugs, the brain and body have undergone changes that make it hard to stop. The disease then spreads to the rest of the family because it’s a system of closely related parts. Once one part is affected, all are affected.

How Teen Drug Abuse Affects your Family

Teens experiencing depression or other psychiatric disorders often start using illicit drugs in an attempt to self-medicate. Other times, it’s simply peer pressure or curiosity that motivates teens to experiment with drugs.1 Either way, once addiction develops, families are caught up in a chronic disease that affects all its members. That’s why addiction is considered a family disease.


Addiction affects every aspect of life for your teen, yourself and your family. Over time, your teenager’s drug-using behavior may cause you to be preoccupied by constantly thinking about it or looking for ways to control it. Sometimes, you might be tempted to numb yourself to what’s going on with your child.

Your perception of what a normal life is becomes skewed as your teenager, who is most likely in denial about the problem, accuses you of being the one out of touch with reality. This type of confusion and instability can paralyze a family from taking action.


You and other family members may tolerate behavior from your teenager that normally wouldn’t be considered acceptable. You may also find yourself reacting in ways you later regret. You hope the situation will get better, but it doesn’t. These feelings have all the hallmarks of denial.

Your attempts to discipline the behavior aren’t working. Your life has begun to revolve around the person struggling with addiction, while other family members don’t get the emotional support or attention they used to receive.

The whole family is becoming casualties of the disease of addiction. Things have changed and now you have come to expect less, since normal family life is no longer an option. Denial, in an atmosphere of chaos, keeps you locked into what seems like a hopeless situation.

There Is Hope

Addiction is a treatable disease that can be put into remission with the right help. Treatment programs for both your teen and the family treat the addiction while helping the whole family recover. Contact an addiction specialist who can evaluate your teenager and recommend appropriate treatment.2

Once your teen is in treatment, the family needs counseling. Family addiction therapy helps everyone by giving them the tools to understand and respond drug abuse in useful and helpful ways. It also helps to heal the relationships damaged by drug abuse and improve communication. When your teen returns to a family unit that’s united, healed and healthy, effective and long-lasting recovery is possible for everyone.


  1. https://science.education.nih.gov/supplements/nih2/addiction/guide/pdfs/lesson4.pdf
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-teen-or-young-adult-has-problem-drugs
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