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Drug Abuse & Its Effects on Families Essay (Article)

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Updated: May 12th, 2020

Introduction

Just like all the body parts are connected, so is the family unit and society. When one part of the body is ill or suffering, so is the rest of the body. Drug abuse is not a one man show per se, because it affects all the members of a family more so the community at large whether directly or indirectly. Drug abuse involves the use of a drug for a non-therapeutic/ non-medical effect or for personal pleasure. Most of the common drugs abused are: alcohol, cocaine, opioids, benzodiazepines, methaqualone among others.

The causes of drug abuse could range from the addiction of drugs meant for treatment to individual unhappiness to unemployment. Focusing on the family seems to be by far, the most known and effective way of finding a solution with regards to the “war on drugs” since it more promising to end the vicious cycle of drug abuse. The approach taken in this paper addresses the scenario where it could be the parents or the children or just peers who are addicted to drugs and how it affects the other parties who are not abusing the drugs.

Effects of Drug Abuse on Families

In the cases of families where the parental figures are involved in drug abuse, there are many factors which could influence how the children are affected, for instance “age of the child and their personality, severity of involvement of the parent, whether or not it is a single parent family, parent’s ability to fulfill parental role satisfactorily and social isolation” (CASA, 2005, p. 2).

Despite this, there are undisputed ways in which subsequent family members are affected: financial constraints, physical abuse, health issues (for instance headaches and insomnia), psychological and emotional stresses, behavioral disorders, educational/academic challenges and in most cases the children will themselves be introduced to drug abuse (CASA, 2005).

The other category mainly falls on youth/adolescents/teen abusing drugs and this also has tremendous effects especially to the society. This group is more likely to get into drug abuse as a result of peer influence.

Peer influence, however, depends on race; a concept stated by Broman, Li & Reckase (2008) “black adolescents as compared to white and Latino/Latina adolescents have a lower need for peer groups” (p. 1628). The consequences of youth involvement in drugs are: car accidents, unprotected sexual activity, depression, crime involvement, school dropouts and to the extreme suicide (Langfield et al., n.d.).

Other effects of drug abuse on a general level include high unemployment rates, marital problems, increased cases of divorce, shifting family roles (where the grandparents are forced to raise the children due to absentee parents), violence, child neglect, stigmatization (especially by friends and society), regular illnesses, unstable families and sometimes even death (CASA, 2005).

There is also the environmental degradation that involves clearing of forests to use the land for production of drug related crops and also wastes that are not properly eliminated (UNDCP, 1995). This in turn could have dire effects to the economy of a country. These consequences that cannot be ignored are what lead families and communities to seek help.

Resources for fighting drug abuse

Assisting both the affected and the drug abuser is very crucial (Fischer & Lyness, 2005). Langfield et al. (n.d.) recognized it as an effort that “requires commitment to lifelong recovery” (p. 1). Langfield et al. (n.d.) have argued that “one of the key facets of addictive behavior is denial, not only by the addict, but also by the family as well” (p. 1). Thus the first step for this great task is acceptance and the acknowledgement that drug abuse is a problem that needs to be addressed with utmost urgency and subtleness.

Parenting that emphasizes on good moral background and even the basic constant availability of parents goes a long way in ensuring children are provided with a good growing up environment that reduces exposure to drug abuse.

Three methods discussed by Kumpfer & Alvarado (2003) are also a different approach a family can take i.e. “behavioral parent training, family skills training and family therapy” (Kumpfer & Alvarado, 2003, p. 1). These programmes have the intent of improving communication skills between parents and children and also offer effective conflict resolutions.

Education and creation of drug abuse awareness “at home, the workplace and religious institutions” (UNDCP, 1995, p. 21) is also one of the approaches that can be taken. Rehabilitation centers which offer professional help are also becoming popular though stigmatization makes some individuals not to want to participate in such programs: that is where family support is very essential and acts as a backbone for the one who drug abuser.

Conclusion

Combating drug abuse will definitely involve investing in time, patience, commitment and it might even be expensive in the long run, but it is for a worthy course thus all costs should be met in order to restore the drug abuser and even the broken relations within the family setting. Drug abuse is a “war” that will be won not only by those who are abusing or are addicted to drugs but will also require the active involvement of the family, society, workmates, religious and educational institutions i.e. everyone despite, race, gender and age.

References

Broman, C. L., Li, X. & Reckase, M. (2008). . Web.

CASA. (2005). Family Matters: Substance Abuse and the American Family. Web.

Fischer, J. & Lyness, K. P. (2005). . Web.

Kumpfer, K. L. & Alvarado, R. (2003). Family Strengthening Approaches for the Prevention of Youth Problem Behaviors. Web.

Langfield, P. A., MacIntyre, M., Turner, J. G. & Fetsch, R. J. Adolescent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. Web.

UNDCP. (1995). . Web.

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