According to WHO, substance abuse thus can be explained as ‘the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs.’ Substance abuse can also be explained as when someone uses alcohol, drugs, and other legal substances in the wrong way. When this substance abuse turns into addiction then it becomes a disease. It damages a person’s life.
How can substance abuse affect your relationships?
The behaviour, and actions of an addicted person not only affect him/her but also those who are close to them. It starts taking a toll on the family member, family environment, friends and other relationships. Difficult, tough situations start becoming even more difficult. In many cases, an addicted person is not even in a state of awareness of its tragic impact not only on himself/herself but also on how the people, and relationships around are affected.
Unfortunately, such people are in steep denial mode. Rather they have no control left on themselves, their behaviour, their reactions and actions. What needs to be understood is that addiction is not a one-way road. It not only affects the individual who is addicted but his/her loved ones also bear the consequences.
An indication of addiction and substance abuse is that the person starts alienating himself/herself from friends and family. Loses interest in activities, or hobbies that previously were of interest or he/she enjoyed engaging in. Such people start living in a world of their own. This behaviour costs them their relationships and friendships. All of a sudden they find themselves all alone standing on the crossroads.
Not only do they go through a roller coaster of emotions, feelings, and negative thoughts but the people related to them, and around them are also affected majorly. Addiction leads to hiding things, being secretive, even stealing and being dishonest to their loved ones. It impacts the sense of self-worth of not only the addicted person but the loved ones around also experience hopelessness, and disappointments. The children in the family of substance abusers are greatly affected by all this. Family members start feeling emotionally drained out and may also experience high levels of stress, and anxiety further slipping into depression.
The impact of addiction and substance abuse is destructive to a relationship. Addicts start manipulating their loved ones, they become self-centred, break trust and may even start abusing people around them physically. All this is emotionally draining for all involved. Even the financial stability of families of substance abusers starts shaking.
How can someone be helped if they are addicted to a substance?
First and foremost, meet an expert in the field and take the concerned person to a rehabilitation centre, if required, after consulting the expert. Addiction causes both physical and psychological damage. It is difficult to treat, especially if the person and the family involved are not supportive of the treatment, but it is very much doable. What needs to be taken care of is that it requires patience, emotional support and ongoing care. If the advice of the expert is not adhered to religiously the chances of re-lapse become very high and the situation may go out of control and even worsen.
All those involved in the treatment and care of the addict need to understand the seriousness and depth of it completely. Family (parents, spouse, children) and friends must learn to say ‘No’ with love, respect and firmness. Build a supportive, loving, and understanding environment around the addict. This will make the path to recovery easier. Labelling, judging or using negative, harsh words for the addict serves no good for him/her and also hinders the path of recovery and treatment. An addict needs the back and support of family, and friends to overcome this habit of substance abuse.
What to do?
Coming out of this successfully requires a thorough understanding of the “Why” behind getting into it in the first place. Once the “Why” becomes clear to both the addict and the people around it becomes much easier to walk on the path of treatment and recovery with full awareness, acceptance and determination.
Family Counseling is a must for those involved to understand and cope with the withdrawal symptoms. Once an addict starts with the treatment and slowly progresses towards leaving the use of substance once misused by him/her, there will be withdrawal symptoms like, vomiting, sleep disturbances, raised blood pressure, body pain, nausea, increased heartbeat, irritability, and anxiety.
Some of these withdrawal symptoms may go away within a few days. Some individuals require more time, patience, and determination to undergo treatment. The power of not giving up goes a long way in getting out of the addiction trap. One must list down ‘What to do during this duration, such as :
- Meeting the expert on a regular basis
- Getting counselling and behavioural therapies
- Following the prescribed medication regularly
- Be a member of a social support group
- Love, respect yourself and make your health (both physical and psychological) your priority.
What to avoid?
While making a list of ‘Do things’ is important, similarly making a list of ‘What to avoid’ is of equal importance. Keep in mind a few things:
- Not to miss the therapy and counselling sessions
- No self-medication
- No self-harm be it physical or psychological
- No negative self-talk
- Not giving in to the voices, noise coming from one’s own inner self or from those coming from someone else to once again try and have temporary relief from the pain of withdrawal symptoms.
Coming out of addiction, all clear, requires a lot of awareness, acceptance and determination both from the person himself/herself and also from the family.