Addictions seem so personal at first, and we all have them. Shopping addictions, social media addictions, gaming addictions, addictions to chocolate or tomato sauce on absolutely everything; they become our crutches and compulsions, safety nets against an unforgiving world at the end of a long day or something to take the edge off. But what happens when we need to take the edge off the edge? When our reliable flavours turn against us and soon we’re doing absolutely anything to get a fix, a slither of relief, transforming a small escape into crushing dependence?
Nobody wants to be addicted, and no compulsion is completely harmless; a retail lover may end up thousands in debt and declare bankruptcy, severely affecting their chances of taking out a loan, scoring a contract phone or being approved for a credit card. Even rental housing may be a severe difficulty. A dedicated gamer may lose touch with their friends and family, put on weight and shut themselves into a room, emerging only for supplies. The effects of so-called big addictions then, sometimes require the intervention of a Non 12 Step Rehab Program and substantial family therapy charges. So how do drug and alcohol addictions affect family dynamics? It’s not simple, or one-size fits all, but there are a few emotional and psychological elements that are common sense to most situations.
The Financial Cost
Making ends meet is an up-hill battle for many families, balancing first and third notices, car repayments, mortgages or even utility and food bills. We all want to get ahead. When addiction starts to take hold, the substance become the first, second and third priority; sourcing it, paying for it, rinse and repeat. Drugs (including alcohol) are instantly gratifying and easy enough to access. As expenses climb, quality of life declines, as the addict sacrifices a month of electricity for a gram or skimps on new clothes or essential like food, just to score momentary relief. As we drown in our vices, it becomes harder to get the same buzz, meaning we spend more on ourselves than our families. It’s hard enough showing up for work hung over and dusky once in a blue moon; imagine a never-ending hang over and caveats of paranoia stumbling in on a heavy headache. Jobs are difficult to maintain when you’re only 30% invested in the work and otherwise distracted by thumping need.
The Emotional Cost
Living with our demons is hard. Subjecting our loved ones and friends to a helpless spectator seat as we become slave to our forty second buzz is something else entirely. Families are torn between enabling the habits of loved ones, indirectly supporting the addict by lending them money to get back on their feet, taking care of them or ignoring the symptoms to save confrontation. Partners are relegated to a passive carer status, tolerating bad behaviour, bailing their loved one out of lock up or shushing children, afraid of what the addict may do or say upon arriving home. The house becomes a war zone.
It is never too late to get help. Whether you’re suffering from an addiction or sit on the sidelines of somebody else’s whims, you are not alone. Google support groups in your local area, talk to fellow addicts and families, and begin to piece things back together, one fragment at a time.
Graur Razvan Ionut – FreeDigitalPhotos.Net