Heroin has become front page news, and the dramatic surge in overdoses and deaths continue to rise and shows no signs of slowing down. According to statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heroin use jumped 63% between 2002 and 2013. In that same time period, the number of deaths related to heroin overdose quadrupled. Many families across the United States are struggling to cope with the devastating impacts of heroin addiction. Like other forms of substance abuse, the impacts of heroin use by a loved one affects the entire family dynamic.
The following are some major ways in which heroin use affects families.
Stress and Mental Health Issues
If family members know that a loved one is using heroin, it can cause them an overwhelming amount of stress. Once heroin addiction dominates focus, family members can spend nearly every moment of their day trying to cope with the effects of heroin use and they often neglect taking care of their own needs. For parents of heroin users, they often can become emotionally or physically available to their children. Not only can parents feel the onset of chronic anxiety and depression in trying to cope with heroin addiction in the family, other family members who feel neglected as a result of addiction can also experience chronic depression and anxiety If addiction issues are not handled proactively and with the help of professionals, this may result in long-term mental health issues.
While the rising heroin epidemic can be largely attributed to the influx of potent and inexpensive heroin into our country, heroin addiction is expensive. Heroin is one of the most potent substances on the planet, but the highs associated with heroin are relatively short-lived. Heroin users feel intense cravings for the drug every few hours, and as a result they must buy considerable quantities of the drug daily to stay high. Heroin habits often drain an individual’s financial resources quickly, and as the result they may resort to begging or manipulating family members for money to maintain their habit. In addition to supplying funds to continue their habit, family members may also be helping with rent, groceries, bill and other financial obligations that the addict has neglected as a result of their heroin use. This enabling behavior causes undue financial stress on families.
Because of the various methods of administration, those who abuse heroin can experience severe health complications. Chronic heroin users can suffer from collapsed veins, cardiovascular and pulmonary issues, and if they share contaminated needles with intravenously injecting the drug that are at great risk for developing infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, and HIV. For families of heroin users, watching a family member who was once healthy and vibrant physically transform in front of their eyes is extremely stressful and heartbreaking. These complications can overburden many families, and they will feel extraordinary amounts of stress in trying to learn to cope and care for addicted loved ones.
Heroin is not only one of the most addictive drugs on the planet, it is also one of the most dangerous. Heroin is a potent narcotic that acts on opioid receptors in the brain, and it also significantly affects the central nervous system. When people take too much heroin or try to quit the drug cold turkey, the body reacts violently and essential functions such as breathing and heart rate can shut down resulting in coma and death. For families of heroin addicts, the fear that today may be their last day is always at the front of their mind. With the potency of street heroin and the additives that dealers use to cut the drug, overdose can a common and unfortunate reality.
Avoid The Blame Game
When a loved one is addicted to heroin or any other drug, the family’s first instinct is to assign blame for their substance abuse. Family members may blame themselves for not seeing the signs of abuse sooner. Family members may also blame each other for enabling the addict’s behavior or neglecting others. Additionally, the family may blame friends, their workplace, their school or another institution for contributing to their loved one’s heroin problem.
The reality is that heroin addiction arises from many factors. Assigning blame towards situations and people will not help the problem go away; in many cases it will complicate matters and cause further damage and undue grief. The important thing is that you move forward and find a way to deal with the actual problem at hand. The best way for families to deal with a loved one’s heroin problem in a proactive manner is to seek the professional help that is offered through a reputable heroin treatment facility. These facilities provide the tools and support to help your loved one address and overcome their heroin addiction.
Thank you to Rose Landes, Outreach Coordinator for Stodzy Internet Marketing for being a guest blogger!