Opioid abuse is a problem that has been destroying the American family for years. More than 20 million Americans currently have addictions to opioids and other medications, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. The problem either exists in the main caretaker of the home, or one of the children is caught up in opioid abuse because of peer pressure or experimentation. Opioid painkillers are some of the most addicting of all the pills. Many children get hold of their parent’s prescriptions and become hooked the very first time they use them. A number of parents become hooked because of a legitimate illness. Opioid abuse is destroying families by:
Opening the Door to Neglect and Abuse
Drug addiction is one of the leading causes of neglect and abuse within the home. Affected parents often disappear for days and sometimes abandon the children inside of the home. They sometimes have no interest in the children’s struggles or concerns. In some cases, the effects of the drugs cause the parents to be short-tempered and even physically abusive. When teens in the household start using drugs, they often neglect or abuse their siblings. Some of them may even become extremely combative with the parents in the household, especially a female parent who is trying to raise the family on her own. The drug-affected household quickly becomes a battleground where no one receives respect, and everyone is afraid to address the problem. The result of sweeping the situation under the rug is a family that deteriorates and evolves into a collection of people who cannot wait to get away from each other.
Breaking Down the Foundation of Trust
Trust is something that frequently gets destroyed when someone in the household has a drug problem. Aside from the usual types of abuse and neglect, household members also become subject to lying, stealing and promise breaking. The addicted person often lies about his whereabouts and activities. This person may also break promises to do things with his wife or his children. Additionally, such a person may borrow money frequently. The opioid addicted teen is likely to take the money if a parent doesn’t provide it, but parents sometimes do it, as well.
Setting the Stage for Learned Behaviors
The role models set the stage for poor learned behaviors like the above-stated negative behaviors. A parent who lies all the time, for example, will unknowingly train his child to lie all the time. A parent who breaks promises all the time will teach his child that breaking promises is acceptable and that other people should not get upset when he promises something and doesn’t live up to their expectations. An abusive or neglectful parent often nurtures the same behavior without realizing it. Drug addiction doesn’t just affect the person who has the problem. In fact, it usually affects the other family members more.
Destroying the Sense of Responsibility and Morale
All sense of responsibility usually deteriorates when a household member is addicted to opiates. Things like housework, schoolwork and general hygiene take a backseat to the opiates. The addicted person’s job performance usually takes a nose dive, as well. The person may call out frequently, leave early, conduct poor-quality work and conduct himself or herself in a belligerent manner while he is on the job. Eventually, that person may lose the job, which adds another problem to the host of problems that exist in the family: unemployment poverty.
Addiction is often a silent killer of families. It sneaks into “perfect” units and destroys them from the inside out. Fortunately, there are some ways that a family can try to keep its unit together even if opioid addiction does hit.
How Families Can Tackle Opioid Addiction
The key to handling drug addiction within the family is to address the problem instead of ignoring it. Some families would rather protect their image and let their spirits die. It’s better to tend to the problem and ignore any party or person who puts down the family for coming together to resolve such an issue.
Understanding and compassion are important in dealing with an addiction problem. Parents must let their addicted teens know that they love them and will stand behind them in recovery. Teens, partners and spouses must be supportive when one of the main caretakers has a problem. Addicted persons need support. They need to know that someone will be in their corner when the smoke clears and recovery completes. They need to know that they are still loved and cherished even though they fell for a while. Knowing that someone loves them can make all the difference in any type of problem. It can speed up recovery and mend the broken family. There is hope for families that are affected by opiates. They just have to believe that they can conquer the problem.