WHAT ROLES DO FAMILY MEMBERS PLAY WHEN SUBSTANCE ABUSE IS A PROBLEM?
Substance abuse is destructive to the person who has become dependent on mind-altering substances; and it is destructive to those who care about or depend on the substance abuser also. One characteristic of substance abuse is that the abuser does not know how to start the process of stopping the abuse. Intervention happens when a group of people who care confront the abuser to overcome his denial, reassure him, provide hope and promise support.
As family members are profoundly impacted by substance abuse problems suffered by their loved ones, alcohol and drug addictions are regarded as family diseases. Thus, their own healing and education are undeniable aspects of a patient’s recovery process. Additionally, their involvement and support are integral before, during and after a loved one’s substance-abuse treatment.
Often, because substance abuse is a touchy matter that family members are unsure of how to tackle, their daily interactions tend to enable a loved one who’s suffering from addiction quit. Driven by fear of offending or pushing the loved one away if anyone confronts him with concern or advice, family members may ignore the problem altogether, or only speak it away from the person who needs to hear their worries most, until the problem escalates to such a level that silence is no longer an option.
Yet, when the people an addict is around every day seem to have no qualms about his decisions, he internalizes that he’s doing nothing wrong, he believes he has enough control over his habits and that they have remained secret. Or, he might think no one cares about the path his life is taking. Family concern is the reason most addicts seek treatment. So, the foremost role a substance abuser’s family members must fulfil is that of refusing to enable the dangerous behaviours by ignoring them and pretending no problem exists.
The intervention process must be as earnest and non-confrontational as possible, but it must also be firm and make clear that treatment is more of a necessity than an option. Some treatment centres around, just to name few, e.g Refuge Home Lekki, Psychiatry Hospital Yaba, NDLEA Rehab Centres across Nigeria, State Commands and CADAM, a Christian NGO based in Lagos, have been providing treatment and rehabilitation services to drug addicts for some years. Family members may take this step privately or with the mediation and guidance of a professional substance-abuse counsellor. Participants must share candidly what effects the user’s problem has on each of them, what impacts they’ve witnessed the problem exerting on the user’s own life, what measures seem in order to address the addiction, and why the need for such measures is urgent. Family members must also express that they still love their troubled loved one and are wholly committed to supporting her throughout treatment.
Family members can help decide whether an inpatient or outpatient program will work best and pursue a program that best suits the needs of both the patient and his family. No matter which option is deemed most desirable, family members must be prepared to remain available, supportive and as present as possible, so that the recovering addict always knows that those who love him are behind him.
These many substance abuse treatment centres offer programs and support groups to help family members cope, remain encouraged and become educated throughout a patient’s recovery period. Opportunities for discussion and/or counselling provide emotional outlets, help them understand they’re not alone and assist them with breaking cycles of enabling or co-dependency that may still be in effect.
The recovery period continues long after the conclusion of treatment itself. Thus, family members must remain as committed as ever to being the pillars that a recovering addict needs while rebuilding her life and struggling with the commitment to remaining sober.
Drugs Abuse affects more than just you!
Say No To Drugs!
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