The Worries Of Families Of Addicts

worriedTrue, every addict I have known had his (her) plate full. I can’t even imagine the anxiety and distress felt when in the throngs of addiction, but let us not forget that family members daily live in worry of what will happen to them or their addicted loved one. When the phone rings late at night, they brace for bad news. When there is a knock on the door, they fear for the worse. There seems always to be trouble in one form or another. Here are some of the worries commonly experienced by family members and how it can impact their lives.

1- Addict’s physical health
Drug addiction leads to serious health problems. The toxic nature of the drug combined with the fact that addiction creates havoc in eating and sleeping habits takes a heavy toll. Depending on theworried1 drug, an addict may go a couple of days in row without sleep, followed by a “crash” that lands them in bed for extended periods. The addict’s appearance deteriorates. They look haggard or bloated. They lose or gain weight at an alarming rate. Family members cannot help but notice the frightening change in appearance of their loved one. The addict looks physically ill, and family members are confronted with fears that their child or their brother or sister is putting their life in danger. And these fears are not baseless. Addicts are at risk of diseases as varied as high blood pressure, liver and kidney problems, pneumonia, and intravenously transmitted infections like HIV and hepatitis. When the addict is out of sight for any time, family members are plagued by fears that their loved one has landed in the hospital — or the morgue.

2- Addict’s mental health
The addict is prey to heavy depressions, manic episodes, delusions, and severe anxiety – to name a few. The people living side by side with these addicts are aghast at witnessing these erratic mood swings. Being concerned about the mental health of their loved one, they worry and they are confused. The addict may suffer blackouts, during which he says and does things around family members that he later is unable to recollect. To family members, the addict appears to be going mad. They fear that the addict will go so far as to commit suicide. In 12 Step fellowships they say that in households where addiction reigns, it’s the craziest person in the family that calls the tune. Families suffer greatly as they try to accommodate themselves to the mood swings and mental gyrations of the addict in their midst. They are at a loss as how to behave towards the addict or what kind of reaction to expect from them. One minute the addict may be docile and the next minute turn violent. Living with an addict is like living with a time bomb.

3- Addict’s behavior

It pains families to see the changes in behavior that the addict exhibits. The addict himself is initially unaware that he is neglecting his appearance or acting out in embarrassing ways when under the influence. But family members are forced to stand helplessly by as the person who once took pride in his appearance now neglects basic hygiene, or makes a fool of himself with loud or inappropriate displays in public when using drugs. Or they return home minus the expensive overcoat they prized – and no idea where they left it, or they might be lying, and sold it for drugs! As their addiction takes precedence over all other matters in their life, the addict loses interest in the things that used to give them pleasure.

4- Addict’s work

Successful employment and drug addiction do not mix. As some have said, being a drug addict is a full-time job. Holding down a job while using drugs becomes harder and harder. Sometimes the problem is as simple as being unable to get up in the morning and make it to work on time. Sometimes the addict is not alert enough to function at work and becomes obviously altered. And other times, the addict steal from either the employer, co-workers, or customers, to supply his drug habit. The result is that many an addict loses his job, which has consequences for everyone else in the family, especially if the addict is the top wage earner. The addicted husband who no longer is able to hold down a job puts a great burden on the wife, which then creates stress for the children. Financial problems – and the fear surrounding them — are common in households afflicted by addiction. Parents whose child is addicted experience similar anxieties. They worry when their child loses interest in education, drops out of school, and become aimless and irresponsible due to drug use.

5- Addict’s finances
Using drugs costs money, and addicts will resort to underhanded means to feed their addiction – including stealing from family members. Such behavior from a former trusted loved one — such a violation — devastates families. They are shocked to see the extent the addict among them will go to continue using drugs. For some family members, this is a real wake-up call. But it can get worse, with the addict turning to crime or prostitution to procure drugs.

6- Addict’s friends

Family members worry as they see their loved one discarding good friends from his former life and mixing with hardened drug addicts. They feel threatened and uncomfortable as they see the addict, who was once selective of his friends and a family oriented person, bring to the home rough or questionable characters. The family not only worries about their loved one addict, but they worry about themselves, least they fall victim of robbery or retaliation.

October 19, 2015


2 responses to “The Worries Of Families Of Addicts”

  1. Great article that sums up very well the feelings I and the rest of my family experienced when dealing with my brother’s alcoholism and my sister’s addiction. I also went through this with my husband when he was n active addiction. The worry, fear, hopelessness, helplessness and frustration nearly drove me insane and brought a lot of stress and heartache to our family.

    Unfortunately I lost my brother to alcoholism 8 years ago, but both my sister and husband are in long-term recovery with 25 years between them. My husband also went back to school, got his degree and now works in the field as a drug & alcohol counselor, and is currently working on his bachelor’s degree; I am so very proud of both of them!

  2. Madeleine says:

    that is the duality that tragedy brings

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