Social And Economic Impact
- Mental illnesses contribute more to the global burden of disease than all cancers combined.7
- Disability represents 4% to 12% of payroll costs in Canada mental health claims have overtaken cardiovascular disease as the fastest growing category of disability costs in Canada.8
- One in seven hospitalizations, and one-third of all days in hospital involve patients with a mental illness.9
- The unemployment rate among people with serious mental illness is 70 90%.10
- The annual economic costs of mental illness to Canadian society are estimated to be $14.4 billion11
- The annual economic costs of alcohol abuse are estimated to be $14.6 billion and $8.2 billion for illegal drug use12
- Schizophrenia alone costs the Canadian economy $6.85 billion annually13
The incidence, impact and consequences of mental health and addiction problems are well known. What is less well known and appreciated is the tremendous but often invisible role that family members have within the mental health and addiction system, and the impact that mental health and addiction problems and the system itself have on families. As noted in Out of the Shadows at Last, , the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, caregivers feel excluded, ignored by the mental health, mental illness and addiction system in Canada. Ironically, it is these same family members who often provide most of the care and support to people living with mental illness.14
How Addiction Affects The Family
Substance use disorders affect the whole family. The family context holds information about how SUDs develop and what can positively or negatively influence the treatment of the disorder.
Furthermore, each family member is uniquely affected by the individual using substances. The possible problems include unmet needs, impaired attachment, financial or legal problems, emotional distress, and violence.
In conclusion, families need education about SUDs and their development, progression, and treatment. However, when family members have appropriate education and treatment for themselves, they can play a significant role in the abusers recognition of the problem and acceptance of treatment. Do you want more information about SUDs? Then call us today. We will ensure you are fully equipped with what you need to help someone struggling with addiction.
Tip #1: Trust The Professionals
Theres a lot of misinformation floating around out there about addiction and how best to treat it. And while it may not be intentionally misleading, spreading false ideas about addiction can make recovery much harder than it needs to be.
Talking to an addiction specialist at a qualified program can help you determine the extent of your son or daughters addiction and build a plan that will get them the help they need.
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What’s It Like To Live With A Parent Who Has A Substance Use Problem
Living with a parent who has a substance use problem is hard. It can affect how you feel and act. It can affect your family life too. What it’s like is different for each person. Here are some common examples. See if some of them describe what’s it’s like for you.
How people might feel. Some people feel:
- embarrassed, angry, or sad about a parent’s substance use
- worried about their parent’s health or safety
- worried for themselves, siblings, or their other parent
- scared, alone, or unsafe at home
- frustrated when their parent doesn’t change
- relieved when a parent takes steps to recover
- it’s hard to trust or relax
- they have to be an adult before they’re ready
How people might act. Some people:
- try hard not to upset a parent who drinks too much
- try to stay out of a parent’s way
- may not speak up, or ask for what they need
- keep their feelings to themselves
- keep their parent’s problem a secret
- hide what their life is like at home
- avoid having friends over because they never know how their parent will act
- miss school, or have trouble keeping up with schoolwork
- take on adult tasks
- argue or fight with a parent
- harm themselves
- act like they don’t care, even if they are hurting
How family life might be affected. In some families with substance problems:
Help Get Family Support To Deal With A Drug Addicted Or Alcoholic Spouse
Addiction can take a toll on any marriage. It can create a variety of problems for couples including financial hardship, arguments, trust issues, legal problems, and codependent behaviors. Loving a spouse with a substance use problem creates a unique set of challenges that only a person who has experienced it firsthand can truly understand. Support groups can provide spouses of addicted loved ones with the support of a group of peers who can relate to their struggle.
All of the support groups listed above provide supportive services to spouses and other family members of addicted people.
There are also supportive programs available exclusively for spouses, including:
- Recovering Couples Anonymous: Recovering Couples Anonymous is a support program that uses the principles of AA but is not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous. They provide support groups for any couple who is suffering from addictions or other dysfunctions that are impacting their relationships. The only requirement to join Recovering Couples is that the couple is committed to remain together, to work on improving their relationship, and to deepen their intimacy with one another. They are currently offering meetings in 15 U.S. states.
- Al-Anon for Spouses and Partners: In some locations, Al-Anon offers special support programs for spouses and romantic partners of individuals with alcoholism. Check their website to find out what programs may be available near you.
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Iv Involving Families As System Partners
Ontarios health care system is currently undergoing a significant transformation. The development of the Local Health Integration Networks signals the governments intention to ensure that communities have significant input into the design and operation of local health services, and that the system itself is accountable, at the local level, to the people it serves. The enabling legislation requires that the LHINs develop mechanisms for community engagement. It does not, however, identify families among the groups to be involved.
How To Stage An Intervention
Staging an intervention can come with the burden of knowing that your child is . Parents should prepare for intervention in much the same way, making sure they have support from other family members and close friends.
Preparing parents should also contact the parents of your childs closest friends to let them know you will be contacting their parents to inform them that he or she is using drugs.
Parents should not attend the intervention alone parents of drug-addicted children need all the help they can get to stage an effective intervention. They should make sure that everyone understands the importance of non-violence during this process.
When parents are ready to begin preparing for intervention with their child, there are several things parents should remember:
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Tip #1: Embrace The Present
One of the biggest difficulties that parents of addicted children face is the fact that many will always see their son or daughter as a child rather than an adult.
This can make it hard to push them from the nest and learn how to fly on their own. Many parents of addicts end up handling bills, paying off debts, finding jobs, and even cooking for their children because they think they wont be able to do it by themselves.
But in the case of addicts who are in their 20s and 30s, these behaviors will continue to enable substance abuse.
Realizing, then, that your son or daughter is an adult is key to recovery. Because in making their own mistakes, they learn.
Signs And Symptoms Of Substance Addiction
- Spending a large amount of time getting the drug, using it, or recovering from the effects of the drug
- Not meeting work responsibilities/obligations, or cutting back on recreational or social activities and other hobbies
- Continuing to use the drug, even though youre aware that its causing psychological or physical problems in your life
- Taking larger amounts of the drug over a longer period than intended
- Feeling that you have to utilize the drug daily or regularly, even several times a day
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the drug
- Driving or doing various other risky activities when youre under the influence
- Doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldnt do, such as stealing
- Having intense urges for the drug that blocks out any other thoughts
- Over time, needing more of the drug to get the same effect
- Spending money on the drug, even if you cant afford it
- Make sure that you maintain the supply of the drug
- Failing in your attempt to stop using the drug
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Increased Risk Of Abuse
As addiction progresses, people become unpredictable and difficult to deal with. They are erratic, frustrated, and angry, lashing out at those closest to them. Drugs and alcohol affect an individuals inhibitions. People are more likely to act out while under the influence.
One of the most profound ways addiction affects the entire family is the higher risk of abuse. Whether its emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, the risk increases. There is a higher likelihood that family members may experience violence at the hands of an addict.
Parental Substance Abuse And Child Social And Emotional Functioning
Many children living in a home where there is an addiction develop into âparentified children.â This occurs when the caretaker is unable to meet the developmental needs of the child, and the child begins to parent themselves and perhaps younger siblings earlier than developmentally appropriate. In a phenomenon called âreversal of dependence needsâ the child actually begins to parent the parent.
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Peer Support Families Helping Families
Families have needs that often go unrecognized. They are under stress and may themselves need emotional support and perhaps even treatment. Their loved ones illness can lead to substantial financial burden, careers can be interrupted, social networks may desert them due to stigma and discrimination, and they may be blamed for their loved ones mental illness or addiction. People who have been thereunderstand all this and, in the context of self-help and mutual aid groups, provide a caring atmosphere where families can speak freely, exchange coping strategies and educate themselves about their loved ones illness or substance use problem and about their own needs for support. After becoming members of self-help groups, they feel better able to navigate the mental health system and have reduced their tendency to blame themselves. They also have a better capacity to deal with stigma and discrimination.64
|I could not have gone through this without peer support.|
Research has shown that when families or family organizations have the resources to provide family-to-family educational programs, there are positive results: Increased empowerment, a decrease in perceived burden despite the fact that the actual burden stays the same, and improved self-care.65 However, family-led educational programs remain scarce.66
The conclusion was clear:
Life Will Not Be The Same
At 5 years old, my son thought he was Michelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He used to run around the house with an orange bandanna tied around his head, brandishing plastic weapons and fighting evil. When we look at our children with addiction, at times we see that 5-year-old and mourn the loss of a child. We would try anything to get them back.
My son is now a 21-year-old man. He is an adult, with a childs maturity at times. However, our world recognizes chronological age, not maturity level. Parents must learn to do that, too. I will always believe that Michelangelo is lost inside of him. Those that are lost sometimes find their way back, but some do not. I can grieve this loss, but it will not help either of us if we dont move forward. A person with addiction does not live in the past or the future they live in the here and now. If you want to help someone struggling, you must live in the same world they do, and understand where they are coming from.
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What Is Drug Addiction
Many people ask, is drug addiction a disease? It is. Any drug addiction definition states that addiction to drugs or alcohol is a chronic disease.
Its important to pay particular attention to the word chronic. What that means is that drug addiction is a relapsing brain disease. Its characterized by compulsive or consistent drug seeking and use, regardless of harmful consequences.
Drug and alcohol cause changes to the brain. They work by producing pleasure, and they trigger the brains reward system, thus interrupting the normal flow of messaging and communication.
Dopamine, one of the neurotransmitters in the brain, can be found in some regions responsible for feelings of pleasure, cognition, motivation, emotion, and movement. When people use drugs, their reward system is then overstimulated, typically from a buildup of dopamine.
This, in turn, produces a rush feeling addicts crave when they use substances. Eventually, the brain rewires itself so that it continuously seeks this alternative way of producing feelings of reward. People need to understand this to realize that drug addiction isnt a choice.
While someones first time using a particular drug is a choice, continued abuse is not something that most addicts can help. Even recovered addicts spend a lifetime fighting against their addiction.
Where To Find Support Groups For Parents Of Drug Addicts
Support groups for parents of drug addicts are available nationwide. While most support groups will meet in person, there are also online support groups available to join. Family support groups can be found through addiction support groups, churches, counseling services, and word of mouth. Some programs will provide resources to parents of drug addicts that wish to develop their own support groups. There are also national-level programs that parents can contact to locate local support groups through their operations. Two examples of these programs are PAL and NAR-ANON Family Groups.
- PAL- Parents of Addicted Loved Ones is a nationwide parent support group that helps parents find guidance, addiction education, and resources throughout their time in need. Advisors will help you find local support groups for you to attend.
- NAR-ANON Family Groups- The NAR-ANON Family Groups are foundations that help family and friends of drug addicts find support from professionals and other families in the same circumstances. This program offers virtual and in-person support groups to families in need.
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Set Up A Personal Intervention
Interventions make it possible for parents and families to take a proactive stance against their sons drug addiction. Theyre a great way to reach out and show the person who needs help how much you love and care for them enough to get them the help they need.
If possible, try to find the right time to talk, ideally one when theyre as sober as possible.
Hold a rehearsal, make a plan, and stick to the script. Deliver your lines clearly and confidently, but also with warmth and love. Try not to deviate and stick to the order of speakers you develop in your rehearsal.
Do everything you can to stay calm and keep tempers under control and dont give up! A professional interventionist can provide integral support before, during, and after your intervention.
Tip #: Use Positive Reinforcement To Inspire Change
Addiction works on a chemical level in the brain. All addictive substances either directly or indirectly impact the main pleasure center in the mind. And since pleasure is actually one of the most powerful forces in guiding learned behaviors, the more pleasure a behavior brings, the more likely someone will be to continue it. This is what addiction stems from.
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Tip #1: Find A Reliable Support Network
With such intense focus on the addicted individual themselves, many parents can often lose sight of the fact that they too need support. But unfortunately, many of these individuals just dont get it.
And thats a shame because having a reliable support network can help keep parents from relapsing into old enabling behaviors, educate them on the nature of addiction, and guide their journey to getting their children professional help.
Legal Vs Illegal Opioid
Legal opioids are prescribed by a health care professional most often to treat pain from conditions such as injuries, surgery, dental procedures, or long-term chronic pain.
Illegal opioids are any opioids that are made, shared or sold illegally. Illegal opioids include:
- street drugs from a drug dealer
- opioids given to you by someone who is not your health care provider
- opioids that are not prescribed to you but are taken from someone else
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Specialized Help And Support For Children
When addiction is in the picture, the one place children should feel safe and protectedhomebecomes a place of unpredictable behavior, conflict and broken promises.
The Children’s Program at Hazelden Betty Ford educates and supports kids who grow up with addiction in their home. Designed for children ages 7-12, the program teaches kids about the disease of addiction and its impact in developmentally appropriate ways. One of the biggest lessons for children is realizing that they are not responsible in any way for the stress and chaos in their home that is caused by addiction. Our program also helps children develop prevention, coping and healthy living skills that build on their strengths and intrinsic worth.