Family Check Up Series 9: POSITIVE PARENTING PREVENTS DRUG ABUSE…The Effects Of Substance Abuse On Marriage

Wilson Ighodalo

Substance abuse can vary from the overuse of prescription medication and illegal drugs to alcohol abuse. While the degree to which the abuser is using this varies, he is considered an addict when financial loss, the breakdown of personal relationships and the neglect of children become the results. By the time these and other consequences occur, the effects of substance abuse are usually so far-reaching that the person should seek treatment and begin counseling for herself and her family.
Substance abuse can affect the overall marital satisfaction and quality. Marital distress is reported more frequently among spouses suffering from or dealing with a spouse battling alcoholism. Distress and anger are associated with high levels of alcohol and/or drug abuse in a marriage. Heavy alcohol use can increase negative and hostile communication, and lead to less warmth and unity in the relationship. With the breakdown of communication, marital distress and other troubles start to affect the marriage and result in greater marital dissatisfaction.
Alcohol abuse makes a spouse unable to carry out everyday household responsibilities. And this inability leads to greater stress on the non-drinking spouse and decreases marital satisfaction. A clear warning sign that one spouse is not functioning properly within the family unit is the constant and frequent use of excuses by one spouse to make up for another. For example, the spouse of a substance user may report to the user’s workplace that the user is “sick” and won’t be at work. This and any other behaviour is the clearest indication that substance abuse is diminishing the capacity of the abuser towards his professional and family responsibilities. The most devastating effect of substance abuse is domestic abuse. Episodes of domestic violence, or “angry touching” by either partner when a partner has been drinking or using drugs is a common consequence of substance abuse in marriage. With research, we found out that 61 percent of domestic violence offenders also have substance abuse problems. In fact, a survey noted that as many as 80 percent of child abuse cases are associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs.


The psychological effect of substance abuse in a marriage is best described as pervasive. An adult’s alcohol abuse also is related to children’s increased social, emotional, behavioural, and academic problems, which, in turn, leads to more stress in the family and less marital satisfaction. According to marriage counselors, unions in which a partner has a substance use problem have many arguments about drinking or drugs use or things related to drinking or drug use, money problems, staying out late, and not taking care of responsibilities in the home. As household chores become neglected, children ignored and romance abandoned, there is no aspect of a marriage that does not suffer.


The sober spouse should stage an intervention and encourage the alcoholic and substance abuse spouse to seek treatment. An intervention should be staged when a loved one harms or threatens family, friends or strangers; children are neglected or abused, financial problems result from the spouse’s addiction, or a number of other indications.


Did you know that prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are the most commonly abused substances by youths (after marijuana and alcohol)? Some medications have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties and because of that are sometimes abused for reasons or in ways not intended by a doctor, or taken by someone with no prescription.
In all my years now as an Anti-Drug Campaigner, I have never met anyone who wanted to get addicted. Sometimes, addiction comes from a lack of knowledge. For example, people often think that prescription and OTC drugs are safer than illicit drugs, but that’s only true when they are taken exactly as prescribed and for the purpose intended. When abused, prescription and OTC drugs can be addictive and lead to other bad health effects, including overdose, especially when taken along with other drugs or alcohol. You can help protect yourself from such risks by knowing some facts about drugs.
Prescription painkillers should not be a first choice for treating common ailments like pain. Tramadol is a pain relief drug, commonly used in Nigeria. Amid an epidemic of addiction and abuse tied to these powerful opioids drugs, recently, a national newspaper reported that a first class student (name withheld) of Uniosun, Osogbo campus, accidentally killed herself overdosing on Tramadol.
The first class student was rushed to a nearby hospital, but was rejected. She died on their way to another hospital. We do not have statistics in Nigeria of how many young people die of drug overdose or abuse every day.
Doctors would prescribe painkillers only after considering non-addictive pain relievers, behavioral changes and other options. Our findings: some youths, especially in a particular part of Nigeria, take Tramadol mixed with cough syrup, just to get high.
Tramadol is a specific type of narcotic medicine called an opioid; Tramadol is used for severe pain relief after surgery to remove the tonsil and /or adenoids, but with serious risk of slow or difficult breathing and nervous system breakdown. Tramadol is a controlled substance; it has the risk of addiction than other narcotic pain relievers.
In recent times, the number of drug overdose deaths continues to rise. The impending dangers of these drug consumption are facing us. The government needs to do something about this trend. “We should try to chart a safer and more effective course for dealing with pain”.
Pain killer drugs like Tramadol act on the same brain areas as heroin, and can be very addictive. Once the pills run out, what do you do? If you’re addicted, you may look for another source, and sometimes that means buying heroin, a dangerous move, considering the potential consequences.
Drug abuse has become a big part of us and it needs to stop. Tramadol is extremely hard to stop once a person is addicted. A person trying to quit abusing Tramadol usually goes through severe withdrawal, which can cause restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, and involuntary leg movements. In developed countries, “The risks of addiction and death are very well documented for these medications.”
Government agencies should therefore try multiple guidelines and approaches in tackling painkiller abuse. The National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) should restrict some widely-prescribed painkillers to limit refills.
However, NAFDAC guidelines should not apply to doctors who specialize in treating severe pains due to cancer and other debilitating diseases.


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