Drug Addiction – How it Affects Families and Society

Drug Addiction - How it Affects the Family and Society

Drug addiction is a disease that affects the brain and behaviour of the person taking drugs. People who have drug addiction have an uncontrollable craving for the drugs of their choice. Drug addiction is a major problem which affects the lives of the addicts and those who are close to them. It can take a toll on the quality of life of the addicted person as well as his loved ones. Although most addicts are in denial, the impact of their behaviour is apparent in their daily life.

What is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder is a disease that affects the mind and behaviour of the affected person. The person addicted to drugs physically and psychologically starts depending on certain mind-altering substances. It is categorised as a neurobiological disease, as the drugs affect the brain and even change its structure and function to reinforce the addiction. The changes in the brain can be long-lasting, and if not treated in time, it can be fatal. People struggling with drug addiction often have a dependency on these substances and feel that they cannot function normally without them.

Effects of Drug Abuse on an Individual

People who use drugs experience a range of physical and psychological effects that can be narrowed down to the following:

  • People addicted to marijuana and alcohol may have impaired motor skills. Distorted time and decreased memory are some of the other short-term side effects of this addiction.
  • People who quit drugs abruptly after a period of continuous use may experience major withdrawal symptoms, which can range from mild to serious. Withdrawal causes agitation, muscle cramps, vomiting, and delirium.
  • Drug tolerance is another effect that occurs with the continuous use of a drug. Tolerance refers to the addict’s need for increasing amounts of the drug to get the same initial effect or ‘high’
  • People who share needles to inject drugs can be at the risk of hepatitis or HIV.
  • Many drug addicts often resort to criminal behaviour to get money to procure drugs.
  • People who are addicted to hard drugs may exhibit signs of depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

A drug addict

Effects of Drug Abuse on a Family

A person who is addicted to drugs not only spoils his life but also his family’s. Here is how the lives of a drug addict’s family members are affected:

  • Family members often play an unconscious role in the habits of an addict. The drug abuse could be a result of abandonment, enabling (where families defend or cover up addicts for various reasons) or simply by ignoring the problem.
  • Trust in the family member can be broken as a result of finding out that a member is an addict. When people realize that there’s somebody in their family with a dark side, it leads to a myriad of feelings such as anger, guilt, shame resentment etc.
  • The health of addicts and family members who are overly concerned might decline because of the constant stress and worry.
  • Being a drug addict makes it difficult to keep a job. It can also affect a family member to find employment if the word gets out.

How Does a Parent’s Drug Problem Affect the Lives of Other Family Members?

If a parent is addicted to drugs, then he might not be in a mental state to pay attention to his children. He might not be able to fulfil his responsibilities as a parent. Family members who try to help the parent may often get pulled into trouble themselves.

How Does a Partner’s Drug Problem Affect the Life of the Other Partner?

Living with a partner who is addicted to drugs is difficult. The addicted partner may often blame others or his partner when things go wrong. This can lead their partner to feel insecure and she may try to hide the problem from her family and friends.

How Does a Parent’s Drug Addiction Affect the Lives of His Children?

Often the children of drug addict parents take on the roles of their parents to support the family and end up getting stuck in that role with a disregard for their own personal growth. Such children often end up as:

  • The family heroes who are responsible and works hard to keep things on track. Although they appear successful, they feel insecure and resentful on the inside.
  • The dreamers; although they may seem content, they are usually lonely. They are also easily hurt but are good at hiding it along with their feelings of low self-esteem and loneliness.

A sad child sitting on stairs

How Does a Son or Daughter with the Problem of Drug Addiction Affect the Lives of the Whole Family?

When children become drug addicts, their whole family falls into pieces. Parents also experience a fall out with each other as they don’t understand where they went wrong and what should they have done to fix the problem. Parents may give more attention to the drug user which might make the other children feel neglected. In short, the peace in the house is often disturbed.

How to Overcome the Problem of Drug Addiction

Overcoming a drug addiction problem needs a holistic approach. The person needs to heal physically and psychologically to let go of the old patterns of thoughts and habit. Here are a few tips on how to go about it.

1. Seek Professional Help

The deeper the addiction, the more it necessitates professional help. Since recovery is hard and people relapse all the time when they try on their own, seeking professional help with drug addiction is an important step. Therapists can chart out structured programs for the drug addict which may help them heal sooner.

2. Exercise

Exercising regularly can help build a routine. Exercise also brings back the body’s natural balance upset by long drug abuse. A person who is addicted to drugs should exercise regularly as it can help a person heal quickly. Practising yoga and meditation can improve the mood of the person and help him quit drugs.

3. Eat Healthy Foods

Proper nutrition is the key to good health and happiness. Therefore, a person addicted to drugs should eat healthy food.

4. Be Around Supportive People

Being around with people who have an addiction problem is bad for a person who is on the road to recovery. It’s best to avoid the company of such people. If you really want to recover, you should hang out with people who are optimistic and are leading a healthy life.

5. Make Time for Your Hobbies

Free time should never be allowed to go waste, it can often lead to relapse as the mind drifts back into desire. To not think about drugs at all, you will have to keep your mind busy. Find a good distraction. Make time for your hobby and keep your mind busy as it will help with the recovery process. A hobby will give you a sense of joy and purpose which will help replace old unhealthy thoughts and habits.

6. Volunteer

Finding a cause that is worthy of support is a good way to change the perspective on their life for those in recovery. Helping those in need and giving back to the community builds a sense of nobility and helps gain friendships of people who share such common goals.

7. Confide in a Trusted Friend

Talking things out and sharing thoughts and experiences with a trusted friend can help sort out the mind and ease things to a great deal. A local support group for addiction also works well.

8. Practise Mindfulness

Being present in the moment and being completely aware of the task at hand can help you ease stress and anxiety and prevent your mind from drifting into old patterns. You can also try meditation.

9. Seek What Makes Living Meaningful

Addicts often have suicidal thoughts and tendencies. The only way to ward off the dangers of it is to search for something that gives meaning to your life.

Drug addiction can start due to various reasons but fortunately, there’s help for addiction problems of all magnitude. With counselling and major lifestyle changes, it is possible to beat the addiction and live a healthy life.

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