By: Leilah Doran, Editor in Chief
As said by Shelly Lewis, who is part of a drug recovery project, 12 Step Planet, “Addiction is a family disease… One person may use, but the whole family suffers.” Drug abuse affects more than just an individual, including their friends and families, by corrupting their lives, and bringing them into an exhausting situation that they may not be able to get out of.
Non-prescribed drugs have a major toll on an individual’s health and life, but it also brings a lot onto a family or close friends. According to solutionsrehad.com, some of the effects of drug abuse includes spouse separation, instability for children and financial struggle; these are only a few struggles. The emotional toll this situation brings is a harder factor to deal with. Fortunately, it is possible to get through; however, you can’t do it alone.
Why would it affect others? They very well could just forget about that person. Although that could be true, in most cases, it is never easy to deal with. Aimee Bilderback, the Assistant Head of School, can support this.
Many may only see the professional, upbeat side of her, but she does have struggles in her life, just like everyone else in this world. She also is a perfect example of how drug abuse affects others because she has a relative who abuses drugs, and with this struggle leading him down a path of bad mistakes, he is now considered a violent offender. “It’s been really hard for us, obviously, but harder because we felt so impotent to do anything, no matter how much we tried to get him to go to a rehabilitation center, or anything like that. He just didn’t seem to recognize that he had a problem…, ” states Ms. Bilderback.
She also mentions that this was especially difficult for her mother to deal with, being that she was closest to him, and it has clearly changed her, based on the decrease in her social personality and her inability to reach out to others.
This also correlates with the topic of children placed in foster care, or children who grow up in an abusive drug or alcoholic environment. Many are left with the expectation of falling in the same direction, if they have a family history of this issue. ABC News tells us that “A record 304,000 children entered the system in 2004, according to one study. Much of the rise was due to methamphetamine use. Experts estimate that 80 to 90 percent of foster care placements can be traced to substance abuse.”
304,000 is quite a big number, but when you realize that majority of them are placed into a path of destruction and confusion, it’s shocking; all because of someone else’s mistake, and they are the ones that are left to suffer. Half aren’t even old enough to somewhat understand the situation they are placed in. Ms. Bilderback adds, “When people grow up in a culture of crime or in a culture of drug abuse, it becomes part of their reality to also become drug addicts, and then you have the cases where… nobody in the family had a problem with drugs.”
Sometimes, there is a case where an individual didn’t have a family history of abuse and it leaves everyone confused about how they were steered in that direction. The how is the important factor.
It is a very hard process to deal with someone who is addicted to drugs, especially when it comes to a point where it is a disease. So, here are some tips on how to get through it.
Doing your research about drug addiction is a great first step to understanding how drug abuse affects a person, and understanding how the interactions in a person’s brain are changed by using. Also, this will help you discover the variety of methods to overcome a drug problem. Researching will allow you to better understand what a drug user is going through and how they feel, but remember that you can’t ever fully understand.
According to therecoveryvillage.com, “As research in the journal Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy points out, an addiction in a close relative can serve as a stressful life situation that persists for years, and that long-term dysfunction can make it hard for families to communicate clearly. There’s a block of mistrust between every member of a family touched by addiction.” Communicating with a drug addict can be difficult on both their and a friend/ family member’s part, so communication with other people who are going through the same situation will allow you to learn how to deal with the stress and psychological problems that both face; there are many programs that are aimed to help with this. Some well-known ones include Al-Anon and Alateen.
#3: Remain Positive
Situations like this can decrease the sense of joy a person has, and could lead them to feeling depressed and stressed. Many try to remain hopeful, but holding on to the hope and aspiration for things to get better can become overwhelming. Although you may be trying to help someone else with their health, you need to be aware of your personal well-being. You should take time to do something that you enjoy or something that brings you happiness. This could include taking pictures, exercising, painting, writing, something that can help you relax and preserve your mindset; this will allow you to maintain a positive attitude.
#4: Try Therapy
“A study of 100 family members of addicted people, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review, found high levels of depression, stress, and poor overall health, when researchers compared their test results to those of controls,” found at therecoveryvillage.com.
Family members and friends often feel tired of dealing with their beloved drug user, and are not always able to understand coping skills. Therapy is a great way to learn these skills. It is suggested to try family or private therapy. Family therapy will allow you to connect more with a substance abuser, since they become very distant when they reach a particular state of mind.
Also, blame tends to evolve within the family, causing a tear in relationships and trust. But, if you don’t feel so secure discussing your opinion within a group, private sessions may be better for you. This will give you the opportunity to express your emotions freely and be more open, without feeling judged.
Therapy isn’t for everyone, and if that’s your case, you should have someone to talk to because keeping it in will only cause harm. So, find a friend, family member, or someone you know you can trust. This is important because it will provide you with someone who can give you advice, think reasonably, and understand the different perspectives.
An important step to helping an addict recover or realize they have a problem is to assist in their understanding of the cause. Treating the drug problem is just treating the symptoms, not the cause. What caused them to steer into a direction of substance abuse? How can it be fixed? It can be said that many struggle with understanding their purpose and direction in life, which can cause depression, stress, and leave them pondering for a way out. Ms. Bilderback adds, “I think that the best thing that people can do to try to help their loved ones is to help them find a purpose, help them find a career goal... Give them a sense that they are doing something meaningful.”
A person can’t easily recognize this, especially when other events take place in their lives. In some situations, people are left with the feeling that drugs were chosen over them; that cause an even bigger emotional impact, but there’s more to it than that. There is a chemical, and psychological thing happening that drives them and rewires their brain, so blame is not a healthy way to deal with this issue.
Just know that you are not alone, many have gone or are going through these situations. It manifests a lot on to a person, and once they are sucked in, it’s hard to get them back, but it’s not impossible. So, reach out for help, and hold on to hope.
Editor Board, 2016-2017
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