Estrangement, Unity, and Substance Abuse

1 min read · 2 sections

Substance abuse has the ability to not only cause physical pain, but it also has the ability to separate those battling the disease from their families and friends, thereby causing emotional pain as well.

According to a 2015 University of Cambridge research study, estrangement is when the supportive relationship between family members is broken down.

This breakdown could be about anything, from differing political views, religious beliefs, social/civil rights perspectives, a unique event that’s happened within the family, or even alcohol or drug use.

At American Addiction Centers, the nationwide leader in addiction treatment, we provide medical detox and treatment for substance use disorders for those in need. If you find yourself struggling with an addiction to substances, please reach out for help.


Broken Ties and Substance Abuse

Estrangement is more commonplace than one may think. There are prevalent variables that contribute to a breakdown in relationships with children, siblings, and parents.

Common factors that contribute to estrangement:

  • Conflict in values/personalities.
  • Emotional abuse.
  • Disparity in expectations about familial relationships/roles.

An alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder presents its own set of challenges. If a family member was to abuse substances, the impact on the family may differ depending on the family structure. American family structures vary, as they have grown from a traditional nuclear family to stepfamilies, single-parent families, multigenerational families, and foster families.

Extended family members may desire to sever ties with the individual abusing substances or may even pretend as though they don’t exist. Depending on the circumstances, some may believe they need legal protection from their substance-abusing family member.

Individuals who abuse alcohol or drugs may find themselves isolated from family. They tend to associate with others who abuse substances, and this association reinforces and supports this behavior. This further pushes family away, thereby perpetuating their estrangement from loved ones.



Just like we are grappling with the idea to unify our country in order to move forward in peace, so to mustA set of hands holding another set of hands. estranged family members find a way to unify.

How to prepare to reconnect with estranged family:

  • Prioritize safety. If anyone is a physical threat to another individual, it’s not the best time to reconnect.
  • Ask for help. Seek out a professional or support group for advice and guidance.
  • Consider a mediator. A third party objective individual may help to moderate a healthy discussion.
  • Avoid a surprise visit. Surprise visits can be stressful for all parties. Be sure to notify and coordinate in good faith by communicating ahead of time that you would like to meet.
  • Reflect on source of conflict. Recall the events that led to the severed tie.
  • Work through your issues. Consider areas surrounding events where you need to heal.
  • Prepare for rejection. Understand that all individuals have to reconcile when they’re ready to do so.
  • Use tools available to you. For example, reaching out to an individual privately on social media without using social media as a way to make the other person feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you’re not alone. There are resources available to help you achieve long-term sobriety and to live a healthy and productive life. Don’t let a battle with substance abuse hinder you. Please reach out to get the help that you need.

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