The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University published a white paper titled Family Matters: Substance Abuse and The American Family. This report claims that “Half of all children (35.6 million) live in a household where a parent or other adult uses tobacco, drinks heavily or uses illicit drugs.”

Substance abuse is disruptive to family life. It is one of the main causes of family dysfunction.

What is a Dysfunctional Family?

A dysfunctional family is one that suffers from emotional or physical abuse and neglect. Family member show signs of extreme anger, fear, or shame. Often those emotions are ignored or denied by the family.

Underlying Problems of a Dysfunctional Family

Many families that suffer from dysfunction have underlying problems. These families may have a member who suffers from chemical addictions or psychological addictions. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, and internet addictions separates this member from the rest of the family. The other members ignore or deny a problem exists. Often, the addict uses family resources leaving other’s needs unmet.

Along with addiction; there may be physical, emotional, or sexual abuse present. Neighbors may notice yelling and loud sounds coming from the dysfunctional home. Depression, anxiety, and isolation are indicators of a problem in the home.

Lastly, there may be a member suffering from mental or physical illness. In this case, most of the family resources go towards care of the illness. The other healthy family members neglect their own needs. Sometimes, the other members will turn towards addictions to reduce the pain of caring for the illness.

These underlying problems in dysfunctional families have one thing in common; a potential for codependency.


What is Codependency?

Codependency is an emotional and behavioral condition. It affects a person’s ability to have healthy, mutually satisfying relationships. A codependent relationship is one-sided. It favors the abusive person in the relationship.

Those who are diagnosed as codependent gravitate towards relationships that are destructive. They will give their resources to the abusive person, neglecting their own needs

Codependency is learned by watching members of a family ignore or deny problems. Children of an addict tend to be codependent if they witness the non-addicted parent dismiss the problem.

Signs of a Codependent Person

The signs of codependency and a dysfunctional family are similar.

1. Problems are not acknowledged.

2. Problems are not confronted.

3. Emotions are denied.

4. Needs are neglected.

5. They are detached.

6. They are silent.

7. They do not touch.

8. They don’t trust others.

9. They don’t have an identity of their own.

How to Find Help for Codependency?

If the addict is not in recovery, look for a local support group. Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Alateen, and many other programs offer meeting for those struggling with codependency. Regardless of the addict’s decision, there’s healing for those who love them.

If the addict has entered recovery or is looking for a recovery center, ask for information on a family program. Aion Recovery in Southern Florida offers a Family Program while the loved one is in recovery. Aion Recovery offers the Map Program to support both the family and the recovering addict to make positive changes and choices once the addict returns home. Call Aion Recovery at 888-811-2879 for more information on Family Programs.


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