The bondage between family members plays a major role in how you and I turn out. After all, family is the most basic unit of a community or society. Regardless of the issues that may arise, that bondage is either strong enough to handle the pressure from life issues or too weak and breaks down.
In the past centuries, family structure was all about the parents and children, thus making a nuclear family, and when extended, it included the grandparents, aunties, uncles, in-laws and cousins. In recent times family structures have become complicated due to various issues such as death, incarceration, drug addiction and abandonment.
As a result, the most family structures present, especially in the United States of America, are such as nuclear, single parent, foster, step and multigenerational families.
Drug addiction takes place each and every day. You hardly realize because you are busy taking care of the bills and looking after your family, especially if you are not into drug abuse. But if you look closer, you might notice some weird looking individuals that hover around at your corner looking paranoid or dirty and always begging for some money.
It does not mean that all street people are drug addicts. But quite a number are because street life is not easy. Also, drug addicts are not only found in the streets. They can also be those family members that you find out of this world whenever you meet, or those that seem mean or just not talkative in family gatherings, if they attend at all.
These kinds of people depend on some psychoactive substances just to be functional in life. They will do anything to get resources that will guarantee their access to whatever they are addicted to. In this process, they could steal family members’ money or valuables.
Additionally, addicts can stir up fights due to simple questions or normal confrontations. If they are the pillars of the families, they tend to neglect their responsibilities, thus hurt their subjects. As a result, they may break the family bond or basically, they cause so much damage that their relatives exclude them in their lives. In short, they cause too much hurt and leave their loved ones frustrated.
Family Member’s Addiction
Any family member in the above structures can land in addiction. Consequently, it will have a different result depending on the family structure and the exact person that gets addicted. For example, if it takes place in a nuclear family, the extended family may avoid that specific part of the bigger family.
Also, if a parent turns out to be addicted to drugs, the children suffer the most, which could lead to intergenerational issues. For instance, if you are a victim because your parent is a drug addict, you will either hate substance abuse with a passion or indulge in it to escape the pain.
In you hate it, you will probably be a very strict parent in future, to the point of hurting your kids due to paranoia. On the other hand, indulging will also cause your children harm since you will tend to behave like your parents did.
It is important to note that drug addiction in the family may not be about the parents, but kids as well due to bad influence, peer pressure or life issues. When this happens, the parents turn to be the victims.
Strong Family Relationships
Strong family relationships do not mean that you will definitely maintain sobriety for the rest of your life. However, you will most likely have a strong support system that will be there for you when you undergo difficult times. Your family members will listen to you and help thus prevent you from venting your feelings in drugs.
Strong family ties are known to have good and open communication. Therefore, whenever you face any issue, you feel comfortable to talk about it and thus have different views on how to approach a problem. Moreover, if you are the parent, you will be comfortable and strive to educate your children, nieces and nephews about drug addiction.
The knowledge they gain from you, plus your good example, will keep them off the various psychoactive substances. The discouragement they get will also be passed on to other generations.
Strong family relationships are not common. The opposite is the not perfect family that has unhealthy relationships, poor communication lines and hostility. If you are a member in this type of family, you will hardly be free and could be distant at some point, in search of peace.
First, you will feel insecure about talking about your anxieties and fears to anybody in your family. As a result, you will search for an outlet. If you do not have friends that you can talk to, then you will turn to drugs just to quiet the issues in your head.
Regardless of whether your family bond is strong or not, your indulgence in drug abuse and addiction will affect them. The American Society of Addiction Medicine believes that about twenty-one million Americans suffer from substance abuse disorder.
These statistics refers to persons aged twelve years and above. This addiction is related to alcohol, pain medicines, heroin, marijuana and cocaine. This means that millions of families suffer the consequences of drug addiction.
Characteristics Of An Addict’s Family
Addiction caused by family issues does not begin at once; it is a behavior that progresses, leading to destruction by drugs. The following are some of the things that lead a family member into drug addiction.
In a family where more emphasis is put on the negatives than the positives, gaining attention may mean drug abuse since it is among the negatives. In this type of family, you will often experience more complaints than appreciations, displeasure expressions and criticisms.
- Parental Inconsistency
When your parents’ behaviors are inconsistent, you will tend to feel confused since you hardly know what is right or wrong. You will notice that the enforcement will seem inconsistent, accompanied by erratic rule setting and inadequate family structure.
Since the limits are unknown, you will tend to indulge into the wrong activities, which include drug abuse that often leads to addiction, just to test the parental responses. In most scenarios, you will be successful in hiding you drug abuse behaviors since your parents are not keen on observing your behaviors.
- Parental Denial
If you experience parental inconsistency, you will be good at hiding it from your family, especially your parents. However, other people such as your teachers may notice a change of behavior or declining of grades. If you also exhibit behaviors such as lateness and rudeness, as well as change of appearance, the school may discover your drug issues.
However, while informing your parents about your current behaviors, they may deny since you seem perfect at home. With such parental denial, which is often a sign of support, you are prone to continually abuse drugs.
A toxic home may cause you to fall into depression, anxiety and intolerable feelings and thoughts. As a result, you may opt to self-medicate yourself with alcohol or other drugs to escape the issues that take place on a daily basis. The progress of such issues will lead you to do more of the drugs thus lead you into an addiction.
- Miscarried Expression Of Anger
As a normal human being, you are prone to experience anger at different times in your life. The way that you handle it could lead to multiple outcomes. So what happens when you cannot address the issues appropriately or confront your cause of anger? You will definitely indulge in drugs just to calm down. If this tendency progresses, you will eventually be dependent on drugs.
- Unrealistic Parental Expectations
As a parent that has been successful in life, it is likely that you will expect that your children must be more successful than you. This may be attributed by the fact that you have spent a lot of money on their education because you want them to get the best education ever, so that they can do better than you.
However, what happens if they are not as gifted or talented or hardworking as you? You will have put a lot of pressure to do better without considering what they want. In the process, you could force them to pursue a degree that they do not even like.
As a result of all the above, your children may opt to drown their daily sorrows and struggles in drugs. A continuation of this will definitely lead them into substance abuse. What is worse, your reaction after discovering their drugs habit, which will anger you, will cause them to indulge more in them since you were the initial cause.
Effects Of Drug Addiction On A Family
Addiction is like a disease. If you suffer from such a disease, you will eventually have the power to hurt your family members. Your drug addiction will cause miscommunication, tension, and frequent arguments in the house.
As a result, there will be high stress levels and negativity, which will affect all those in that unhealthy atmosphere. Additionally, your unpredictability due to the continuous consumption of drugs will cause emotional pain, loss of trust, anxiety and stress, since you can hardly be counted on.
Furthermore, you will damage your family’s foundation due to late nights, job instability and abnormal as well as erratic behavior. Such issues may arise since you will be distracted, forgetful or unfocused since your mind is based on your addiction.
If you previously took care of the family financially, you will cause a lot issues. For example, your family members will have to take on greater responsibilities to cater for the gap that you have left. This will cause a lot of strain and produce a variety of emotions that will obviously be negative.
They may include fear, anger, resentment, hate and blame. You will further alter the family dynamic as you damage it, since you will constantly lie about you tendencies or deny your behaviors. This will further cause the falter of trust.
Other effects that may result from addiction may include:
- Financial instability– your drug addiction will cause you to have some behavior that are likely to cost you your job. If this happens, your family will be affected because you will no longer be reliable to provide.
Consequently, your family, members may lack electricity, heat, shelter and food. If they manage to secure these for themselves, it is likely that you will turn into a thief who goes after their valuables to acquire money for the drugs and sustenance.
- Isolation– due to the drug effects, you are likely to suffer from affected sense inhibition, judgment and cognitive functioning. As a result, you will tend to misbehave in family functions, thus cause embarrassment upon your family.
With the recurrent of such behavior, you will opt to avoid family functions to avoid further chaos. However, avoiding family function could later progress into avoiding family members which will seem like isolation. You will tend to feel ashamed thus result to this behavior.
- Enabling behaviors– while under drug addiction, you are prone to experience rejection and other issues like resentment from those you love. This will deeply hurt you since you probably expect them to understand you and help you deal with your issues.
If this progresses, you will continue to indulge in drug abuse since there is nothing better to do when people mistake and reject you. In short, their negativity will enable you to indulge more in drugs.
- Struggles for adult children– if you suffer from drug addiction and are unable to take care of yourself, you will turn to those around, especially if they do not want to neglect. If you are a parent, you turn to your adult children.
You will tend to do this because you know that you will never lack food or clothing. However, by doing this, you will cause them to struggle just to cater for you, alongside their other responsibilities. Consequently, they will not be as productive as they should be due to the stress that you will cause.
- Continuing familial damage– according to the Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy, all the above repercussions caused by drug addiction can linger in a family’s generations.
The inter-generational effects will lead to mistrust, wrong role modeling and normative behavior effects that will last for a while.
As soon as you discover the damage you have caused upon your family and yourself, you will require to get out of drug addiction. The best way to do this is by seeking treatment in a rehabilitation center, where you will be admitted and taken through the initial stages of the recovery process.
These initial stages include: evaluation, to discover the type of addiction that you suffer from and if there any presence of psychological problems that you may suffer from. This will lead you to the admission process.
After admission, you will have to detoxify your body, to get rid of whatever you abused. This will not be a smooth road, since you will have to suffer through the withdrawal symptoms, which could be severe enough to threaten your life. The doctors may help through some medications to relieve the pain and save your life.
As soon as you are through with the detoxification process, you will enter the rehabilitation phase, whereby, you must confront the issues that caused your drug addiction as well as the issues you caused while under the influence.
This is the part where you come to realize the damage you caused upon your family. It begins with acceptance since they were your own actions; regardless of whether you were aware of them or were just too high to even notice your own actions.
At this point, you must realize that a simple apology will not take away the pain that you caused. Therefore, you should not expect them to forgive you just because you are sober now and have said sorry. Yes an apology can make a difference; however, you cannot expect it to make up for all the hurt that you caused.
As you continually stay in the drug addiction treatment center, you will have access to help in understanding how to repair your relationships, through the counselors and staff. The following are pointers on how to go about repairing those damaged family relationships.
- Setting Of Realistic Expectations- as a newly sober person, you will feel proud of you achievements while under treatment. Therefore, you will tend to focus on the future since you are advised to leave the past behind you.
However, as mentioned earlier, you should be realistic about what to expect from you family members that you hurt. Some of them will still be angry at you for damaging the relationship you had. Nevertheless, all is not lost. You can begin by saying sorry; any progress after they accept your apology is worth celebrating.
- Reach out- do not expect your family members that you wronged to come running to you after your treatment. You have to find them yourself. You can begin by writing an email or calling them. Just make that step yourself. It might encourage them to reach back.
- Rebuild trust with time- when under the influence you probably lied a lot to the point that trust broke into pieces. It is known that once you break another’s trust, regaining it is almost impossible.
Therefore, with this fact in mind, you need to struggle to gain it back. The best reason why you are likely to regain it is because your family members knew you before you fell into addiction and thus will be willing to give it another shot.
Regardless, know that it is a slow process and you should not blame them for failing to trust you as fast as you want them to.
- Healthy Communication Methods- for communication to bear fruit, it goes both ways. You cannot expect a person to trust you if you do not come clean about the issues in your head. Therefore, if you promise to bring dinner but are unable, ensure to communicate.
This way you earn trust since you will not leave your family twisted in the wind hungry like you probably did before. Most of all, learn to listen.
- Practice honesty- as you maintain good communication methods, remember to be honest. This applies to situations that could trigger you back to addiction. If your family is holding an event, tell them you can attend if only they can keep away anything that can cause your relapse. By being this honest, you guarantee them that the past will not happen again.
- Eliminate Unhealthy Relationships- as you got addicted to drugs, you probably became friends with the wrong people who propelled your drug addiction by encouraging it. Such people have to go if you want your family to fully indulge in forgiveness.
By doing so, you will also prevent yourself from relapsing back into drugs. However, if you continue hanging out with those people that led to unhealthy friendships, your family will doubt your intention to repair the damaged relationships.
- Practice patience- it is highly possible that you caused so much pain that some family members do not want to see you or hear from you. So as soon as you reach out. Be patient enough to give them time to respond. While doing so do not nag them since it might annoy them. Just wait.
In conclusion, it is clear that drug addiction can really cause pain upon a family. It breaks family relationships and tends to cause so much damage that goes from one generation to the next.
If you are among people that abuse drugs, note the kind of harm that you cause. Get clean as soon as you can and mend the broken bonds. It is known that blood, meaning family bond, is thinker than water, meaning friend bond. However, do not be too confident and neglect the fact that you can lose it all by causing too much pain.