Families & Denial
Drug Addiction

The family plays a vital role in the life of an addict. They need to tackle the problem head on in a constructive, concerned, appropriate and professional manner. Nipping it in the bud cannot be stressed enough. Sadly many families help exacerbate the problem which affects the addict even further.

Some of our observations made are highlighted herein:

It is disturbing to note that most families themselves are in denial. They either refuse to acknowledge the problem, pretend the problem does not exist or believe that the problem will disappear magically. Reasons for this behavior hinges on family pride and the " what would others think" syndrome.

How important is this when compared to the reality that the effected family member's life is at risk? This individual could...

Lose his / her job
Land himself / herself in jail for crime
End up in a mental institution
Die from the habbit or even take his / her own life
Kill someone else, including a family member

When help is sought, families do not fully entrust the referred institution with total control and care of the individual. They will break protocol at various stages of recovery by smuggling monies, rush the recovery time frame, openly display pity to the individual etc.

Is such a vital requirement in aiding recovery. You have to go "all the way" to achieve the desired result. Don't spoil the individual when sent home for short spells. Don't openly display past suspicions or new found trust. These are factors that can trigger the relapse of the individual.

Being such a major aspect to recovery, families should also get their houses in order by adjusting their lifestyles. Instilling an Islamic ( Religious ) ethos within the family unit is a must. Salaah (prayer) and other codes of Islamic or other religious practice should be adhered. Imagine the 'recovery' returning home after re-entering the spiritual stream, only to find the home environment lacking in providing an atmosphere conductive to encouraging and continuing his/her new code of life.

Drugs Addiction occurs when a person surrenders to a substance or activity that takes control of his/her life and destroys the individual if he/she does not seek assistance.

Denial is the main defense mechanism used by addicts and families and can be defined as the inability to see or accept a problem as real. An addict has no chance of recovery as long so he / she or their respective families are still in denial.

The practice of taking drugs without proper medical supervision is called drug abuse.

A person who indulges in drugs for a while may not be able to stop without experiencing dangerous physical effects that could lead to possible death. Such a person is said to be physically dependent.

Not all medical drugs cause drugs addiction but many people find that they want to go on using the drug. The belief that they will get ill if they don’t have these drugs and find it hard to resist these drugs. This is psychological dependence.

With many drug types, a person initially only needs a small amount to get the desired effect, but with continuous use the body becomes used to the drug and more of it is needed at a time to get the same effect. This is called tolerance. Chasing the “original high” could lead to death by overdose.

Once the recovery is permanently back home after his stay at the treatment centre, families need to encourage / enforce the maintenance of links with the associated organization. Out-patients programs where, group therapy, counseling, zikr ( religious practices )etc take place regularly must be attended to by parents & recovering addicts at least once a week. Any unusual / suspicious behavior should be promptly communicated to the representatives at the treatment centre.

It has been noted that families start to act as if there never was a problem, breaking communication links with the officials of the treatment centre. Although officials will never the less do follow ups, this link has to be a 2 way street.

What one must not lose sight of is that this battle against substance abuse is a lifelong battle. There are no quick-fix solutions. From day 1 of joining a support / therapy group, focus should be on fostering and maintaining abstinence. Let us not be deceived by the notion that the battle is over once the "recovery" starts "acting in a normal way". This indeed could be a play towards making us lose sight of the problem and aid towards a relapse. A relapse should not be viewed as a failure. It should rather be used as a mechanism to re-evaluate our endeavors towards achieving our objectives. One cannot afford to drop one's guard. Observing the early signs and taking quick, remedial action is tantamount and successful. the denial syndrome should not creep in again as this will definitely lead to the problem re-emerging tenfold.

Hence we need to acknowledge that substance abuse is not just an individualistic problem. But rather a problem. But rather a problem that manifests from a host of issues.

Parents in denial could enable or give tactic approval for the addict to continue the habbit as an easy way out, hoping a third party steps in to assume responsibility for the addict.

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