The Effect of Addiction

Addiction is an illness that wreaks havoc on the lives of those affected. However, this is an illness that affects far more than just the person concerned. It is estimated that for every one person who develops an addiction to a chemical substance such as alcohol or drugs or who develops a compulsive behaviour disorder, another five people will be directly affected. Unfortunately, it is not just those closely linked to the addict who will suffer, either. In many instances, the wider community is affected too. The effect of addiction can be devastating and absoutely ruin one’s life, as well as this of their most beloved people. This is why help should be sought and provided on time.

The Effect of Addiction on the Individual

Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling with addiction each and every day in the UK, but many more do not even realise they have a problem. As well as substance addictions, people struggle with addictions to gambling, shopping, sex, the internet while many more deal with food addictions, all of which can have a devastating impact on their lives.

An addiction changes the way the brain functions. Those affected will become tolerant to the effects of the substance or activity to which they are addicted to. They will then need to take more of the substance or engage in the activity more often to be satisfied. As the addiction takes hold, the individual will crave it and will have no control over his or her urges even if he or she knows it could have negative consequences.

Those with addiction are affected in many ways. They will often find that all areas of their life are affected, including relationships, finances, and work. As the person becomes more obsessed with a particular activity or substance, he or she will begin to neglect family members, responsibilities at home or work, and even personal hygiene. Addiction also causes the individual to suffer both physically and mentally, with problems such as depression, paranoia, and anxiety quite common.

The Effect of Addiction on the Family

Family members of those with addiction are affected in many ways. Watching a loved one struggle with addiction can be heartbreaking. Spouses, parents, siblings and children are all affected by one member’s addiction to a particular substance or activity.

It can be extremely difficult to live with an addict, especially when that person is violent or aggressive when intoxicated. Many addicts will lie and steal from their loved ones to allow them to carry on with their compulsive behaviour while many families will experience financial hardship as a result. Family members often suffer mental and physical health problems themselves due to the stress of living with an addicted individual.

Children are often the forgotten victims of addiction, but those who have grown up with an addicted parent are much more likely to develop an addiction themselves when they get older. They are also more liable to develop eating disorders and have suicidal tendencies. Addiction can cause long-lasting effects on children.

The Effect of Addiction on the Wider Community

Addiction can affect people so deeply that they could resort to criminal activity in a bid to enable them to continue with their destructive behaviour. The gambling addict, for example, may steal from his or her employer when access to funds elsewhere run out. Some will become so desperate for cash that they resort to burglary or mugging. Others will shoplift items that they can then sell for cash or swap for drugs.

There is also a cost to the taxpayer. Addiction-related injuries and illnesses place a tremendous burden on the National Health Service every year, and there are also costs relating to policing criminal activity on the part of addicts and drug dealers.

Addiction is a devastating illness affecting the lives of many people around the country. Nonetheless, it is an illness that can be treated and overcome with the right help and support.


  1. Durgs and Alcohol: Facts and Features (NHS)