Does Your Troubled Teens Addiction Run in the Family?


Did you get your eye color from your mother? Perhaps your hair and nose hail from your father’s side of the family? So many of our physical traits and behaviors can be due to our genetics. For some, there may be an increased propensity for addictive behaviors if there is an addiction running through the family tree.

Just how far does genetic influence go? Can siblings be at an increased risk if one of them is struggling with addiction? The more you know, the better you can understand and help your troubled teen battle addiction.

It may be cliché to say, but it’s worth remembering that addiction is often considered to be a family disease. It impacts every person in the family and can often run in families. That said, it does not mean that the cycle cannot be broken.

There is no denying that alcoholism and other addictive behaviors can run in families. While this may feel discouraging, the knowledge can help each family member recognize risks and potentially keep themselves on the sober path.

Understanding the risk factors of addiction

Children with an alcoholic parent or a close family member are often at risk of becoming an alcoholic or addict themselves. An addiction within a family will create layers of stress that can contribute to a host of concerns for every member of the family. From creating an environment that is dysfunctional to setting a precedent for lack of impulse control and relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Many of us growing up in an environment where addiction has such a presence may make the decision to turn away from that. Seeing a family member struggle, and feeling how their struggle impacts the entire family, can often be the catalyst for a lifetime of sobriety.

Others may fall into the same addiction cycle for a range of environmental, genetic, and mental health reasons. Addiction is not linear. There is no one path to addiction, just as there is no one-size solution for the treatment of troubled teens facing addiction.

Some of the ways that addiction within the family can impact someone else’s risks developing addiction concerns include the following:

  • Financial stress that may bring housing or food instability.
  • Depression and anxiety that may not be recognized and treated.
  • Trouble maintaining a routine and school schedule.
  • The potential for physical, mental, and emotional abuse.
  • A sense of normalization for the addictive behavior and the way it impacts the whole family.

There are so many factors that can potentially play into how addiction is present with a family. With both genetic and psychological concerns at play, it can be easy to see how the cycle of addiction can continue between generations and even between siblings.

Addiction and the home environment, with siblings

One of the major factors about addiction that can impact others within the family is that it can appear to be normalized. The related issues, chaos, and disruption become a way of life for everyone in the family. Drug addiction does not exist inside of a vacuum. It has a direct impact on how the addict treats those around them, including parents and siblings. In response to this now normalized dysfunctional environment, younger siblings may pick up unhealthy coping behaviors that can reinforce their turning to an addictive substance at some point.

Younger siblings may view their older troubled teen sibling getting attention from their parents and others in the family. This can lead to them feeling neglected and even acting out at school or within the home. Children who may feel that their parents are favoring a sibling, and may even feel unloved as a result, do have an increased risk of using drugs.

This can be a concern that impacts generations for many years to come. It also doesn’t rely on any socioeconomic constraints. Addiction can become a reality whether the family is exceptionally wealthy or live below the poverty line. Addiction does not discriminate based on geographic location and the bank balance of the family.

What is the best way to deal with addiction within your family?

While you are in the depths of addiction within your family, it can feel almost impossible to imagine a life that looks different. However, the good news is that it is possible to overcome the impact of addiction and alcoholism as a family. Best of all, no one in your family needs to struggle through the detrimental effects that come from addiction.

But just what can you do, and what tools are available to your family?

Get support, and get help through addiction and recovery programs, family and individual therapy, and support groups.

Don’t play the blame game. This can be easy to do when a younger sibling starts to mimic an older sibling’s behavior. Now is not the time to judge, take a hard line, or leave your troubled teens feeling alone with their struggles.

Recovering from addiction is a family effort

There is so much that can be said about the connection between family and addiction. However, if there is one takeaway, it should be that recovering from an addiction is much more likely to be successful with the support of family members.

There is undoubtedly an intersection between addiction and family history. But remember that it is not all about your genetics. Some children who see their older sibling or another family using drugs may adjust without issue. Children learn behaviors by observing, but they can also learn to resist the temptation to turn to drugs and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Helping your troubled teen through addiction can be challenging. It can be even more challenging when your other children start to display signs of substance abuse or addiction. Working together, as a family, to identify areas of concern can assure you of greater success. Addiction is a family problem, which means that recovery should be faced together as a family.

If your teen struggles with addiction, getting the right treatment and supportive environment can help set them on the path to recovery. At Help Your Teen Now, we provide guidance that can help your family determine the right residential treatment center to meet your teenager’s needs. Licensed medical professionals will provide support to your entire family, including siblings that may be struggling.

Reach out to learn more about the solutions that can help to meet the needs of your whole family, starting with troubled teens.

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