EDITOR’S NOTE: It takes a community to help with mental health awareness and addiction, compassion and understanding, access to resources and services. here is the third part of Jan’s three-part series about Addiction. See below for links to the other two articles. Also included are resources and information if you or someone you know needs help, there is hope.
By Jan Boal, RN
Addiction has far reaching arms, pass the addict themselves. These tentacles stretch out into all areas of one’s life. Affecting job performance,
becoming more apathetic, increased absences and a change in their work relationships. At home, the addict is moody, less reliable, defensive, absent
emotionally as well as physically. The strain on finances as extra monies, savings and even rent money become missing. Family try to reason with the
addict “if you really loved us, you’d quit!” Shame and anger become a part of the family dynamics. As the brain chemistry goes awry in the inflected
addict, their behavior becomes unpredictable resulting in family members walking on egg shells around them. Yelling and anger often take the place of reason and support by loved ones. The adult involved with the afflicted addict, often becomes over controlling in many situations in their own life, dealing with finances and over the rest of the family’s activities. They become called the “crazy one” for trying to navigate the mayhem around the addicted family member. Lying and covering for them, making excuses, believing their addicted loved one will figure it out, get better. For on a subconscious level they are responding to a fear, “so nothing else can go bad.” They react to the rest of the world based off of the home environment going into reactive mode most of the time. The children live in constant fear, sadness and shame. They do not understand. Sometimes they think, “if I just do better in school and at home I won’t be the cause of the stress.”
Becoming anxiety ridden with trying to be better and better. Never feeling like they live up to the illogical addicted adult. Or they just give up all together, doing poorly in school, isolating and withdrawing within. When these children grow up, they too become involved in addiction issues or with someone who has these addictive behaviors. They will navigate to what is familiar on an underlying learned behavior.
The community is left with an increase in crime, incarceration with over filled jails and prisons. Homelessness increasing, ravaging the streets with mass garbage heaps, leads to rodent infestation and a disease breeding ground. Camps filled with waste, poisoning, polluting, our community. An
increase in crime on the streets with those trying to get their next fix. The emergency departments see the revolving door syndrome where addicts come in every week with infected ulcers becoming septic due to needle use. This costing the hospitals in staff burnout and little to no reimbursement for services rendered. Police, emergency staff and medical response drivers constantly dealing with the opiate crisis witnessing horrifying numbers of overdose deaths. This in turn effecting their health and mental well being.
They go home to their families with the weight of this on their shoulders. What effects one, effects all of us. This is why we hear that drugs are a social issue, not just a personal one.
How does one cope with this? For the addicted, they must begin to realize and accept that they have a problem. This is the first step towards recovery.
The family members need support and education on how to help themselves.
To learn how to detach lovingly from the addict yet still provide support.
Our community workers need the same support. There are services in our cities and towns available to help with these needs.
Yes, unfortunately there is not enough rehabilitation facilities where there are immediate openings. Waiting lists are long. Write to your representative and senators requesting more help for addiction recovery. However, there are other means.
Churches have programs, community AA or NA meetings, many types of online programs, all having huge success rates. Al Anon is a support system for family and friends of an alcoholic or drug user. This program provides, education, coping skills and being with others who know exactly what you are going through. As well, there are doctors, therapist, EPA programs and other community support groups that can help. Start somewhere.
Do not let fear and misconceptions stop you. Change your mind, change your life.
If you liked what you read or have questions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out janboal.com for holistic care services.
ADDICTION-Part 1 – https://www.tillamookcountypioneer.net/postive-vibes-may-mental-health-month-addiction-part-1-of-3-part-series/
ADDICTION-Part 2 – https://www.tillamookcountypioneer.net/positive-vibes-addiction-part-2-of-3-part-series/