Drug Addiction in The Family
Most people are aware of the ravages drugs play on the user both physically and mentally. How it affects the whole family is sometimes less thought about. When things get more dramatic, such as child abuse, the effects are more evident, but what about the insidious smaller effects?
The most common effects are actually the everyday effects caused by neglect. As an addict falls further into the clutches of drugs, all other things will become less and less important. When living with an addict, children, a partner or parents will feel this in small ways. Shopping that doesn’t get bought, children that get left at school late, dinner that doesn’t get made. Though they may seem small these things can destroy a family, by the little feelings of neglect that build up.
Emotional pain and misery is not just felt by the addict but is felt by all those around them. Trying to help and failing or watching someone you love do so badly has a very emotional effect on everyone around. That pain can live on inside children and partners for decades to come.
Drugs can become contagious in a household. A clear and worrying effect of drugs in a household is how it can become contagious to others around. I am not referring to something in the DNA or genetically passed on, but rather passed on by actions and observations. This is especially true of teenagers, who are commonly curious about drugs anyway. That curiosity can quickly become experimentation when it is in easy reach right at home. On top of that, the addicted parent is unlikely to strenuously object, or if they do it only comes across as hypocrisy and doesn’t lead anywhere.
Drug use will affect the family’s finances. Addiction is expensive, and financial depletion affects everyone. It may start off as children not able to go to clubs, or not able to have the things and toys that they want, but it can reach not having money for the weekly food shop, no money to buy the kids clothes and get as bad as outright financial ruin. Jobs lost, and no more money is often the outcome for addicts. Unfortunately, the drug taking doesn’t usually stop there, and things just turn darker and into the criminal band.
Things can then get darker when we reach abuse. If the addict has totally lost control, then we can get into the field of abuse, this can be emotional/verbal abuse, domestic violence or child abuse. It is clear the damage that this has on those being abused…
What can be done?
Well, to help the whole family the first handling has to be for the addicted person. Nothing lasting can be done whilst the addict and his or her drugs are in the house. If you can get the addict clean and fully rehabilitated, then work can be done to mend the broken relationships or those that were hurt along the way.
Our programme includes courses on life skills that allow the person to learn tools he/she may need to go back out into life and handle situations and problems without turning back to drugs.
When an addict is fully rehabilitated it is not just the individual who benefits but rather the whole family, as someone gets a partner back, a parent, a child or a sibling.