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Drug use can have a significant impact on families. It can lead to financial strain, as the individual may spend a large amount of money on drugs and neglect their responsibilities. It can also cause emotional distress and strain relationships between family members, as well as lead to physical or verbal abuse.
Additionally, it can lead to neglect of children and other dependents. The consequences of drug use can ripple through a family, affecting the well-being and stability of all members.
Substance Use is On the Rise
It’s difficult to say if drug use is on the rise globally, as data on drug use varies between countries and may not always be accurate or up-to-date. However, in recent years, there have been reports of increased use and availability of certain drugs, such as opioids and synthetic cannabinoids, in some regions. Many people have access to under-studied and unregulated substances like bath salts and kratom – the impact of these drugs is not yet completely known.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on drug use, with some reports indicating that substance abuse and addiction have increased due to stress and social isolation. It is important to continue monitoring and addressing the issue of drug use, as it can have serious consequences for individuals, families, and communities.
Signs Substance Use is Affecting Your Family
A person’s problem with substance use may not always be obvious. You may have questions about how to discuss someone’s alcohol use. In any case, paying close attention to the signs can help you. There are several signs that a family member may be using drugs, including:
- Physical changes: The individual may have red or glassy eyes, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, or physical signs of drug injection, such as needle marks.
- Behavioral changes: They may display sudden mood swings, become isolated or withdrawn, or neglect responsibilities.
- Financial changes: The person may have unexplained financial difficulties, ask to borrow money, or steal from family members.
- Decline in personal appearance and hygiene: The individual may neglect personal grooming and dress inappropriately.
- Legal trouble: They may get in trouble with the law due to drug-related activities or offenses.
- Decreased work or school performance: The person may have difficulty at work or school and may have an increased number of absences or decreased productivity.
These are just some of the signs that a family member may be using drugs. However, it’s important to keep in mind that drug use can manifest differently in each person and not everyone will display all of these signs.
Long-term Effects of Substance Use
Taking action to address substance use in your family is not only important for your mental health, it’s important for the physical health of anyone who is struggling with substance use. Drinking too much alcohol and using drugs over an extended period of time can lead to several serious long-term effects on a person’s physical and mental health, including:
- Liver damage: Excessive drinking can lead to liver damage, including fatty liver disease, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure.
- Cardiovascular problems: Heavy drinking can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks.
- Neurological damage: Chronic substance use can lead to damage to the brain and nervous system, which can result in memory loss, trouble with coordination and balance, and decreased brain function.
- Mental health issues: Substance use can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems, and can worsen symptoms of existing mental health conditions.
- Increased risk of cancer: Heavy drinking has been linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including liver, breast, and mouth cancer.
- Weakened immune system: Chronic alcohol use can weaken the immune system, making a person more susceptible to illnesses and infections.
- Increased risk of accidents and injuries: Excessive drinking can impair a person’s judgment and coordination, leading to an increased risk of accidents and injuries.
It’s important to note that these effects can occur even in people who drink heavily but do not meet the criteria for alcoholism. Many serious problems can be avoided by stopping or reducing someone’s substance use.
Getting The Help You Need Tips for Finding a Substance Use Counselor
Here are some suggestions for finding a substance use counselor:
- Ask for referrals: Start by asking your primary care physician, family, or friends for referrals. They may be able to recommend a counselor they have worked with in the past.
- Check online resources: Look for online directories of substance use counselors, such as Psychology Today, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the American Psychological Association (APA).
- Use insurance resources: If you have health insurance, contact your insurance company for a list of covered substance use counselors in your area.
- Research credentials: When considering a substance use counselor, research their credentials, including their education, training, and professional experience. You may also want to look for someone who specializes in the specific substance use issue you are dealing with.
- Consider location and accessibility: When choosing a counselor, consider the location and accessibility of their office. You may want to find someone who is conveniently located and offers flexible hours.
- Schedule a consultation: Before making a final decision, schedule a consultation with the counselor to discuss your needs and goals and to determine if they are a good fit for you.
- If mental health issues are also present, look for therapists that understand and treat both the mental health and the addiction.
It’s important to remember that substance use counseling is a personal process, and finding the right counselor may take time. It may be helpful to interview several counselors before making a decision.
Can Families Recover From Substance Use Problems?
Yes, families can recover from substance use. Substance use affects not only the individual who is using but also their loved ones and family members. Family recovery involves healing and rebuilding relationships that have been damaged by substance use, and learning how to support one another in a healthy and positive way.
Some steps that families can take to begin the recovery process include:
- Education: Educating oneself about substance use and its effects on the family can help increase understanding and provide a foundation for healing.
- Family therapy: Family therapy can help families work through the emotional and relational issues that have arisen due to substance use. Family therapy can help families improve communication, rebuild trust, and develop healthy coping strategies.
- Support groups: Joining a support group, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, can provide a sense of community and support for families affected by substance use.
- Self-care: Taking care of one’s own physical and emotional well-being is crucial for families in recovery. This may include engaging in physical activity, practicing stress management techniques, and seeking professional support when needed.
- Staying involved in the person’s recovery: Supporting the individual in their recovery journey can also be an important part of family recovery. This may include attending family therapy sessions together, participating in support groups, and encouraging the individual to continue their aftercare plan.
Recovery from substance use is a process that takes time and effort, but with the right support, families can heal and rebuild.