Letters & Opinion

Addiction in the Family

Is there someone in your family who is struggling with addiction? Is it gambling addiction, alcoholism, drug addiction or another kind of addiction which is reducing their lives to shambles? How do you cope with this? For you must be immensely stressed out as there seem to be no way of setting your loved ones free from the grip of addiction.

Sometimes we wish that all the bars and all the alcohol will disappear. Sometimes we wish that all the gaming avenues would vanish into thin air. We wish, and we go on wishing that someday, somehow, a miracle would save our loved ones and our dear friends from addiction.

Most of us simply do not understand how anyone can get hooked on anything which is obviously ripping their lives apart. Because of this, we tend to descend forcefully upon the addict, demanding that they come to their senses and get their lives back on track. The addict, on the other hand, is convinced that the demands are perfectly unreasonable. “If only it were that easy!” says the addict to himself.

We browse the internet, hoping to find a way out for the addicts in our families, but the very definition of addiction itself may cause us to lose the little hope that we have. Definitions include, “a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm.” Another definition goes, “a complex disease, often chronic in nature, which affects the functioning of the brain and body.” So, how do we cope with addiction in our country especially when our resources are so limited?

There is the Wellness Centre of course, which deals with certain issues. But usually no one is so disposed to be admitted there because of the stigma associated with every kind of psychological disturbance. Religious and ‘God-fearing’ people would say that God is the answer. “Pray and pray and never cease from praying” is often the advice that is given. Alas, there are people who have given up on God because of their addiction; for no matter how much they supplicate for divine intervention, none appears to be forthcoming. Perhaps addiction, like other illnesses and diseases is simply one of those ills that humanity has to put up with.

Regardless of how hopeless the circumstances of addiction may seem, we should not give up on the sufferers. There are suicidal thoughts that lurk behind the blinds of addiction, and sometimes addicts no longer think of death as they feel dead already. It is extremely painful to love someone who is struggling with addiction, and we may feel that it would be so much better for us if we did not care so much. But lack of caring is not an option. Addiction destroys families, friendships, relationships, and ultimately the individual. This has a terrible impact on our communities and on our nation at large.

Every addict suffers with tremendous amount of shame, guilt, anxiety and anger. One would have to take a journey through the mind of an addict in order to feel the depression and the pain that the addict feels. We must be delicate in our treatment of the addict, but there must be firmness in our delicacy as well. Family members, friends, and loved ones must come together and form support groups for those who suffer with addiction. Addiction often leads to financial difficulties and legal issues and we simply should not wait until the situation arrives at its worst to do something about it. Addiction is said to have a very long road to recovery. It is a tragedy that many never recover from, but the victory is always phenomenal for those who do recover. We should always aspire for that phenomenal victory.

We need to sit down as a group and have a conversation with the addict. As a group we will have the courage to ask the difficult questions. The opportune time for discussions will present themselves when the addict is seeking for the very help that their addiction makes them desperate for. We need to talk about addiction, and we need to understand that our loved ones are not the same after the addiction as they were before it. We need to discus addiction with our loved ones in order to know what they truly feel, truly think about themselves and about others. Addicts conceal who they really are deep within.

Their true identities hide from the external guilt and the shame that has been brought on by the addictions. ‘Hiding’ is bad for the addict, for addiction festers most in secrecy. Addiction needs to be discussed in an open and frank sort of way. Children should be included in the discussions as well. In order to show how serious the writer of this article is about this issue… the writer will openly admit on this national newspaper that he too has struggled with addiction. The struggle has been as long as nine years and the writer is grateful for all the support that he has received, and continues to receive from loved ones.

Addicts sometimes think that no one is more depressed than they are. We need to tell them how depressed we often feel and especially how depressed we are by their actions. We more often express anger, but anger often creates and perpetuates the very situations that we try to solve with our anger. The solution we seek is for the addict, and the addict’s illness is mainly psychological. The solution therefore, usually lies in our understanding of the addict’s psyche; and the best way to understand it, and to help them to understand it, is to encourage them to talk about their struggles. Most of us tend to criticize, judge and condemn addicts before we understand what addiction is. There are many kinds and various degrees of addictions, and many of us have addictions of our own. We just do not think of them as addictions if they do not produce chaotic or traumatic repercussions.

Neurological and psychological studies on addiction have been constant. Some researchers claim that there is no cure for addiction. All we know is that it can only be overcome. Science has not provided us with a remedy for addiction, so what we have are our support groups. It does not matter so much whether the support group is comprised of only family members, friends or church members. The important thing is that we do our best to form a support group for every addict there is. We need to hold their hands and walk them out of the guilt, the shame and the despair.

 

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