The Impact of Addiction on Families

A Family member will usually contact Tabor Group about a loved one’s addiction when they are at a crisis point and the situation has gotten out of control. They often do not know where to turn or how to get help, which can be an extremely daunting, challenging, and stressful time for any family. In this blog, we are going to take a look at the impact of addiction on families and look at what support is available for those who have loved ones struggling with a substance use disorder.


With many families that contact us at Tabor Group, it is often the case that their loved one’s addiction has been present for some time and the family themselves have tried to accommodate the addiction and contain the negative consequences of it as best they can.


One reason for this is down to the stigma that remains attached to addiction in Irish society. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of sensitivity about being addicted and provokes judgement from others. There is sometimes even an intolerance attitude to addiction in Irish society, with people finding it easy to blame the addicted person and criticise them for not deciding to take action to solve their problems. The local community, the workplace, and sometimes even family members can become intolerant and angry towards the individual struggling with addiction.

As a result of this stigma, the family of those struggling with an addiction want to protect their loved one from such treatment and judgement, and so the addiction goes underground with the family attempting to contain it. At times, the stigma extends to the family also and they are worried about their own reputation. The family worry about becoming tainted by their loved one’s addiction. It becomes a source of shame for them, and they fear being excluded from their extended family, the local community or even workplace and be the subject of gossip, pity, and rejection.

However, it is not possible for the family to contain the addiction unfortunately. Usually, the addiction will progress if it is treated with this secrecy and even thrives on it in the underground. The addiction eventually spirals out of control and becomes public. This can happen in many different ways, just some of which are outlined below:

  • Family rows that can be overheard by the neighbours and wake up children
  • Public displays of drunkenness or being under the influence
  • Family occasions ending in turmoil
  • Drug dealers calling to the door for money
  • Gardaí or the ambulance service at your home responding to an emergency
  • Child protection agencies getting involved in family affairs
  • Legal problems leading to the involvement of solicitors in family affairs
  • Visits to Garda stations
  • Days in court
  • Prison
  • Barring orders
  • Losing a job
  • Poor health
  • Regular visits to the GP
  • Hospitalisations

A family’s quality of life, that most of us take for granted, gets eroded by addiction. This happens gradually over the years. Family members are so absorbed by the addiction and trying to contain it that they don’t notice that their own self-esteem and sense of their own self-worth is diminishing.

With addiction, there can be cycles of good and bad times or ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ times. This can go on for years and become the defining factor in the life of a family. It can cross from one generation to the next and continue on and on, which needless to say, can be extremely stressful and traumatising for a family, impacting everyone, in particular children.

By the time a family are in contact with Tabor Group there has been a significant impact on everyone involved. The family can become submerged in the addiction, and it takes over completely. Relationships are damaged and there is much hurt, anger, and disappointment.


While Tabor Group specialise in helping the individual with a substance use disorder come to terms with their addiction, we also have developed a speciality in helping the family and concerned people of the individual through our Family Support Programme.  We believe the whole family can benefit from support, not just the individual themselves.  The types of supports that have been shown to help are education, one-to-one support, and peer support groups, all of which are provided through the Tabor Group Family Support Programme. People come expecting their loved one suffering from the addiction to be the focus of attention of our meetings, but they are surprised to find that they themselves are often our focus.

By the time family members get to Tabor Group they are often lost in the loved one’s addiction. Our aim with the Family Support Programme is to help the family members to get back in touch with themselves and their own needs and wants, which is often stolen from them as a result of a loved one’s addiction.


It is always very satisfying to meet former clients of Tabor Group who have succeeded in managing their addiction. When discussing their time with Tabor Group, many remark that what Tabor Group gave them was a chance to ‘find their real self’.  Once this ‘real self’ is found the person can start to make decisions based on self-respect which leads to managing the addiction and getting their life back on track.

The very same thing happens with family members who engage with Tabor Group’s Family Support Programme, who have a chance to find themselves again too. They recognise that the impact of their loved one’s addiction is that they have lost touch with their own lives and themselves. With the help of the Family Support Programme, family members understand that they are entitled to self-care and to a normal life, whether their loved one succeeds in managing their addiction or not. The love for the individual struggling with a substance use disorder can remain whatever decisions they make about their own life, but family members can find a way to detach from the craziness of active addiction and hold on to a sense of themselves and their own value as a person.

This pathway to recovery for the entire family is well-worn being the path for hundreds of Cork family members down through the years. If you are affected by the topic discussed here, why not contact Tabor Group and start the journey to wellness and recovery for yourself.


Tabor Group provides residential & community-based addiction treatment programmes to men and woman over 18 years of age, who are struggling with addiction to alcohol, drugs, and gambling. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, get help today. We can help you recover in a healthy, friendly environment and beat your addiction. Do not hesitate to contact one of our counsellors today for information by calling +353 (21) 488 7710 for Cork or +353 (1) 639 2962 for Dublin, or alternatively you can email us at info@taborgroup.ie. We can help you.