Life has a way of throwing the occasional brutal test at even the most loving clan. Rarely will any family breeze through life without meeting some kind of emotionally draining curveball.
Adversity has a habit of turning up unannounced (and when you least expect it) before throwing a spanner in the works and causing chaos in various ways. When it does, most people accept it for what it is: the sometimes cruel nature of a life that comes with ups and downs. We accept it as a possibility and face it head-on when it arrives.
But there is one alarmingly common type of adversity that can be especially cruel and hellishly unrelenting to an otherwise loving household. A nasty imposter with the potential to bring even the most solid unit to its knees, sometimes causing immense suffering and irrevocable damage in the process.
We are talking, of course, about the cruel beast that is drug addiction – and the awful effect it can have on families all over the world. Through this article, we shall take a brief but concise look at what to expect and how to help someone with drug addiction.
Drug Addiction in the Family
The menace of drug addiction is liable to strike any family member at any time: the stressed-out daughter who succumbed to addiction through the pressures of college; the father who suffered a work accident and became hooked on painkillers; the sister, mother, aunty, or cousin who used prescription drugs as a crutch for anxiety, depression, or a whole host of other mental health disorders.
The threat is everywhere. You might be surprised at just how many families are affected by the modern plague of drug addiction. What’s more, no family is immune: whether it’s the stereotypical ‘Brady Bunch’ type of unit or a broken, unloving one, both are at risk in equal measure.
From young children to emotionally distraught spouses, no family member is left unaffected by a loved one’s drug addiction, and in a variety of forms. Once it has entered your family, there are a whole host of ways in which it can create devastation, from the issue of neglect to financial burdens.
Parental prescription drug addiction can (and probably will) leave young children emotionally fraught through fear and vulnerability. Often sidelined by a previously attentive, loving parent, many children will internalise the situation, wrongfully blaming themselves for their parent’s struggles with drug addiction.
Feelings of this nature can lead to attachment disorders. These disorders can then persist throughout life, causing challenges in forming connections and displaying affection as they grow older.
The knock-on effect of prescription drug addiction (or any parental drug addiction) is incredibly far-reaching, often causing very real disruption to a person’s entire life. There is even the possibility that some children will require therapy and support later in adulthood.
Mental Strain and Emotional Toll
Dealing with a loved one’s prescription drug addiction (or, once again, any form of drug addiction in the family) places enormous levels of pressure on immediate family members.
The problem is that drug addiction within the family will eventually lead to lots of tense situations, including arguments, financial struggles, trust issues, and unpredictable behaviour. Continually being placed in these tense situations keeps family members nailed down in a permanent state of alert.
Eventually, stress will become the default emotion in what used to be a joyful environment. If left untreated, this could even lead to mental health issues among the loved ones who are close to the drug addict. The constant state of tense awareness not only challenges mental well-being, but also physical health. You are probably familiar with the saying “walking on eggshells?” Imagine that, only greatly multiplied.
When someone needs help with drug addiction, another issue to consider is the propensity for financial issues within the family. Managing an addiction often means accruing debts, neglecting essential household bills, and even resorting to theft from those closest to them.
Your loved one may have led a previously admirable, morally astute, almost angelic existence – but drug addiction has a habit of reversing those traits to the extreme negative, and when it happens, it isn’t pretty.
Resources that were previously allocated for essentials like food and clothing might now be redirected to support the addiction, further increasing the economic strain. In some scenarios, family members – in their bid to help with drug addiction – may even fund their loved one’s habit, unknowingly deepening the financial nightmare.
Now, you might be wondering what type of drug addiction we are referring to? Which group of drugs are so addictive that they can cause this level of despair within the family?
Drug addiction is obviously a worldwide issue, but there are three regions in particular that are experiencing a rising tide of addiction at the moment. Let’s take a look.
Drug Addiction in the UK, Australia, and the Middle East
Contrary to common perceptions, the issue of drug addiction isn’t confined to urban areas, stretching across villages and towns in equal measure. Year after year, the statistics grow more troubling, with a vast number of people trapped in the grasp of addiction. The consequences affect everything from the economy to public health and, of course, our families.
Both Australia and the UK have seen an increase in drug addiction across the board, but over the last decade or so, there has been a serious, worrying rise in the Middle East with prescription drug addiction (particularly Tramadol, a synthetic opioid.)
Prescription Drug Addiction
It’s natural to assume that all drug addictions start on the streets, but this isn’t always the case, with an increasing amount of addictions now beginning in the medicine cabinet and the doctor’s office. Medications prescribed for pain relief, anxiety, and other conditions are more likely than ever to turn patients into addicts.
The repercussions of prescription drug addiction are felt by families who watch their loved ones change, often unable to comprehend how something that began as medical aid issued by a concerned doctor could lead to something so sinister.
Other Common Addictions
Beyond prescription drug addiction, there are also the ‘more common’ drugs that have been problematic for several decades. The usual, unrelenting substances like cocaine, heroin, and newer synthetic drugs like ‘Spice’ are just a handful of many culprits that plague loving households.
Each type carries its own set of circumstances and challenges for the addict and their family, meaning that each type of addiction may require specialised, bespoke treatment.
Treating someone with drug addiction is a highly nuanced matter with several variables to take into account. However, there are a few steps that you can apply to all circumstances, starting with the notion of empathy.
Facing the Reality of Addiction
The first step in offering a supportive role for someone who needs help with drug addiction comes with understanding their situation and not issuing blame. No one wants to become a drug addict, after all. Yet here they are, deep in the throes of addiction, desperate to evade its grasp.
Understandably, some loved ones find it tough to relate, and while you yourself might not have faced drug addiction, allowing yourself to understand their struggles is a positive first step into the process and hugely beneficial for both you and them.
Now, that all sounds easy in theory – typed out as mere words on a page – but how on earth do you achieve understanding? Fortunately, It is easier than you might presume, especially if you embrace the following thoughts:
1. Keep in mind that addiction is usually a lifelong battle and not something that your loved one can simply ‘shake off.’ By educating yourself — through literature, support groups, or seeking professional help with drug addiction – you can better empathise with the struggle they are facing.
2. Remain compassionate at all times. Your family member might not always display gratitude for your care and concern (at least, not initially), but with patience and continuous support, recovery is easier to achieve.
3. Help with drug addiction is always possible: we are a testament to that fact, having successfully treated thousands of addicts over the years. Although the journey might feel quite hard, every effort you make to maintain empathy and patience is one step closer to recovery. Celebrate the small wins, always.
You can view empathy as a bridge (of sorts) linking two people together emotionally. Granted, that may sound abstract and possibly even a little ‘flowery,’ but when practised, empathy will help create an understanding between you and the addict. You really need that understanding in order to help with drug addiction.
Take Good Care of Yourself
You will be familiar with an air steward giving in-flight safety advice to “secure your oxygen mask before assisting others in the event of an incident”. The strategy is simple: you can’t save your loved one if you yourself are in danger, so you must ensure you are safe first.
The same principle applies when a loved one needs help with drug addiction. If you’re overwhelmed, stressed, and not taking care of your own needs, your ability to help someone with drug addiction vanishes. Ensuring your own well-being is required to effectively support your loved ones’ recovery.
Establish Solid Boundaries
Sadly, It is not uncommon for loved ones to become manipulative and engage in coercive and almost quite cunning behaviours. This usually isn’t their natural personality, but rather the addiction compelling them to say and do anything in order to satisfy their addiction.
To safeguard both yourself (and them from themselves), clear boundaries need to be created and strictly adhered to. This could involve restricting financial access or refusing to help in procuring more alcohol or drugs. The key lies in consistency: in how to help someone with drug addiction while protecting yourself from manipulation.
Equip Loved Ones & Empower Your Family
Given this unfortunate era of widespread drug addiction, we believe all families should be armed with the skills and knowledge to tackle the issue when it has penetrated their family unit. Lives could be saved if only families better understood what to expect and how to cope when their loved ones fall victim to drug dependency.
At Dawn Rehab, we specialise in treating drug addicts while extending support to the patient’s family. We believe that by gently educating family members, the addict will have a far better chance of abstaining from their drug of choice permanently.
How Rehab Can Help
Battling drug addiction in the family will feel insurmountable and completely overwhelming to most people. The truly awful pain of watching relationships crumble and the personal health of a family member deteriorate can be too much to take on alone.
If you do find the task too challenging, we would love to help.
At The Dawn, located in the achingly beautiful Chiang Mai province of tropical northern Thailand, we offer a tailored approach to recovery. If your loved one needs help with drug addiction, we will ensure they are treated with the utmost care in a fabulously calming tropical resort.
After initial assessment, our patients receive a personalised program structured to their own individual needs, consisting of drug detox, addiction treatment, and wellness therapy. Our fully licensed medical team supervises the entire detox process, providing total safety and comfort.
Following detox, our expert therapy team will then explore the underlying cause of the drug addiction, ranging from Amphetamines and Cocaine to Prescription drugs and Opioids. At Dawn, we have treated various types of addicts.
East Meets West
Based in a stunning, tranquil environment, with the beautiful Ping River flowing past our Thai-style resort, our guests will experience a combination of Western and Eastern therapeutic methods here at The Dawn. We also engage in various activities, from intensive psychotherapy to meditation, all of which play a huge role in the healing process.
We tend to focus on small therapy groups, creating trust and comfort while ensuring your loved one gets the attention they need. Not only do we help identify triggers to prevent relapse, but we also teach the various tools and coping mechanisms required to create a brighter, drug-free future.
It is with good reason that our Thai-based rehab resort has become incredibly popular with people all over the world. Our system works very well for anyone who needs help with drug addiction – all while in a beautiful environment in a richly fascinating country.
If you have never previously considered treatment outside of your home country, we recommend you read our complete guide: how to find the best rehab abroad in 2023. The reasons for embarking on treatment abroad are wide, varied, and thoroughly compelling!
Questions? Please do reach out for absolutely any reason, query, or advice.
And remember, you and your loved one are not alone. We will get you through this.