Drug Addiction and the Family

Drug addiction is a disease that results in dramatic behavioural changes as a consequence of the altered state of the brain.  A person who is caught up in the throes of drug addiction will be in a cycle of compulsive drug seeking and abuse. This can result in very selfish behaviour that makes it hard to live with the drug addict as they may become rude or hostile if confronted about their drug use.

Funding the constant stream of drugs needed to be used in the grip of drug addiction can be very expensive.  Addicts may resort to theft and fraud in order to get the money to buy drugs.  Family members may find themselves the victims of these crimes, perpetrated by their own loved ones. Most often it is the family who pushes for the addict to be admitted into rehab.  They have reached the point where they are not prepared to watch the addict destroy his/her life or suffer the consequences in their own life.

Clearly drug addiction impacts heavily on the family. Any quality rehab will have a family programme for the patients significant others to attend to learn more about drug addiction and what they can do to assist in ensuring a better prognosis for the patient. Often the stance that the family adopts can either help the drug addicted patient to enter and stay in treatment and recovery or enable the patient to return to their active drug taking.

Learning as much as you can about drug addiction and the family will go a long way towards ensuring that you adopt the best stance in relation to the patient.

What are the symptoms of drug addiction?

Some research has suggested that the family environment can contribute towards the development of addiction.  However a better explanation could be that drug addiction develops over a period of time as a result of persistent drug abuse. You see, drug addiction has several possible symptoms.  Two of these are physical in nature and are directly related to drug abuse.  The first of these is the development of tolerance.

The first of these physical drug addiction symptoms is tolerance.  An addict is said to be tolerant if they require a much higher dose of drugs to get high.  In other words the drugs have less effect than they used to and the addict is forced to use more and more to get as high as they are used to.  Tolerance reflects the ability of the body to adapt itself to become accustomed to the presence of the chemical and to function despite the interference.

The next physical symptom of drug addiction is physical dependence, which is also a situation where the addict’s body adjusts itself as a result of having a constant presence of the chemical.  In this case the body adjusts to actually require the presence of a certain level of the chemical being present.  If the addict stops using abruptly the body depletes itself of the chemical and the withdrawal symptoms result.

Behavioural symptoms of drug addiction include compulsively seeking and using drugs despite this causing problems in the addict’s life.  These problems could be skipping work, not meeting household responsibilities, physical problems caused or made worse by the drug abuse.

How can the family help treat drug addiction?

As we said earlier, quality drug addiction treatment centre’s will include a family program.  It will include chances for the family to come to the centre and attend groups designed especially for them.  These groups will introduce the topic of addiction and provide them with useful information about the nature of this disease.  By attending these groups family members will be better equipped to support their loved one during and after treatment.

Secondly the treatment centre may offer family conjoint therapy.  This form of therapy is held with the patient and their family.  It provides the family with an opportunity to voice the hurt they may have experienced as a result of their loved one’s addictive behaviour.  This gives the family the chance to start their own healing process and to lay down boundaries of acceptable recovery behaviour and unacceptable drug addiction related behavior.

If you or a loved one is struggling from drug addiction please contact the expert intake coordinators for independent advice on choosing the best treatment centre for you.

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