TODAY -

Impact Of Drug Addiction On The Family

Rosul Sagolsem *

A Rally against Drug Abuse by Animal Gym
A Rally against Drug Abuse :: Pix by RK Viswajit :: Animal Gym Trainer



Addiction upsets the normal functioning of the family, affecting all the members.

The family faces certain specific problems :

  • The family lives on an emotional roller coaster of embarrassment, guilt, hurt, anger and frustration, loss / grief, fear and hopelessness.
  • Constant family conflicts, constant demands, provocations, erode the family's self esteem.
  • Financial resources are diverted for drugs/alcohol, hence the family becomes insecure.
  • To protect the addict from external condemnation and to protect themselves from further embarrassment , the family may isolate itself from social / external contacts.
FAMILY REACTIONS TO THE DRUG DEPENDENT Denial : Family usually denies the existence of the problem in order to avoid humiliation and embarrassment. Adopts enabling behaviour ; shielding him, making excuses for his behaviour, rationalizing his actions, believing in it the same as the addict does with his minimisation and rationalizations. Example, 'he used once or very little or not as others do', OR 'its all because of his frens'.

Preoccupation : Similar to the addict's obsession for drugs, the family's thinking usually revolves around the dependent and they become negligent of their own needs and duties. The preoccupation drives them to unproductive ways to control the drug dependent. Example the mother or wife may be tracking his movements all day, even though she knows by doing it, she will not be able to control him.

Making changes in oneself : Most family believes that the addict is taking drugs because of certain problems so they try to deal with the problems. They try to please the addict and maintain a warm and caring attitude to the addict. Example, 'family members giving up work or outings to spend time with the addict'.

Bargaining : Family offer something to the addict in return for desired behaviour. Example, 'I'll get you the latest bike / computer' OR 'We will set up a business or job for you'.

Blaming : Family starting to blame each other. Usually the addict takes advantage of the situation and sets member against another.

Controlling : Example;
  • Hide, empty the drugs
  • Extract promises from him
  • Ask him to avoid his frens
  • Cry, plead, threaten, shout at him to give up drugs
When these efforts fail, elders and relatives are requested to advise him. He may comply for some time but not for long.

Disorganisation in the family : All attempts are given up, finds that all other things have gone wrong, other children are neglected and is also unable to control even their (family members) own emotions.

Permitting the crisis: At some point of time family stops taking any responsibility for the consequences of the addict's behaviour. Example, refusing to clear his debts, refusing to take medicine when he faces withdrawal pains.

When the addict is left to face the problems all by himself, he feels helpless and the family take advantage of these situations to intervene and motivate him to seek help. Living in this problematic environment the family members develop a behaviour pattern called 'co-dependency' characterised by the specific condition of preoccupation and extreme emotional dependence on the drug dependent.

The family have to realize that
  • Addiction has affected the family physically and psychologically
  • Some of their behaviour patterns have become inappropriate in the course of time.
  • Need appropriate coping skills to face the problems brought by addiction.
  • A change in attitude and behaviour will help in supporting the addict in his recovery or sobriety.
TIPS TO THE FAMILY

" Stop believing that 'if only he decides, he can always give up drugs'. It's not that simple. Decisions, desire, determination can come and go. It requires more than that. Addiction is a complicated and serious problem. One may require professional help.
  • Stop protecting him unnecessarily; he becomes aware of the enormity of the problems when he faces the consequences.
  • Giving to his irrational demands just for peace in the house will only complicate things.
  • Start communicating honestly and openly to other members about their concerns.
  • Start accepting that they are not alone. Reaching out to other families with addiction can be helpful.
  • Start looking for one's own needs and needs of others members of the family. Perform the neglected responsibilities.
  • Identify positive / healthy activities of recreation and pleasure. This will give energy to face the problems.
  • Plan and prioritize family activities.



* Rosul Sagolsem wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
The writer is @ Shine IRCA, Thangmeiband Yumnam Leikai
This article was posted on May 18, 2012 .



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