Personal Family History Project Part II: Family History Paper
Drug and substance abuse to me in not just a story I hear from third parties. I have personally had an experience. It is unfortunate that most of the campaigners against drug and substance abuse are activists and not necessarily people who have had a firsthand experience on the same. Most of the stories that are narrated by victims of substance abuse cannot match the real experiences that they have gone through. It is in fact a great miracle for a person who has gone through the ordeal and survived to tell the story. Drug addiction is like a cancer that not only eats up the individual but also directly affecting those closest to him. It is always difficult to imagine that a person can be so much influenced into drugs that they have no senses. They hurt those they love and simply get over it as if nothing happened. I have lived not to blame the addicts, as I understand that they are in an even bigger crisis than their victims are. There is a lot more than needs to be done to correct the drug mess rather than just rehabilitating the addicts.b. Substance use/abuse history and other emotional/mental health issues
There is a history behind every drug addicts, which needs to be analysed before inventing a corrective measures. The bottom cause remain to be frustrations that come with life which make a person resolve to a solution that will keep them happy through such diversity. Even though it is currently associated with a certain group of youths who also use it for recognition, a person who was fed up with life and wanted an immediate solution influenced most of them into it. Its history dates back to the black community in United States. Most of the youths were a frustrated lot, not being able to gain recognition in a white dominated community, they resolved to drugs which enabled them survive the deplorable living conditions. These frustrated people lived simply because they found themselves alive. However, even as their living conditions became better, drugs had become part of them and they could not just stop it (Copello, Velleman & Templeton, 2005).
The fact that the drugs makes a person feel better than they are when sober made many other young people consume it even when they were not frustrated. It is unfortunate that most people take them for temporary reasons but end up being addicted. The health effects of substance abuse are not felt when taken in small portions or for a shorter length of time. The issue however is the craving that makes a person want more each day and each time. Most of the addicts I have talked to confess that it took long for them to realise that they were addicted and some still deny being addicted. They justify the fact that the drugs have some medicinal value, which they have to keep taking to boost their psychological wellbeing.
Drug addicts take time to realise how the drugs have taken toll on their health, yet it is always too late. By the time, a person seeks psychological help and counselling, they have reached a level where they cannot handle it anymore. They have reached a level where they must be helped or they will just waste away. A real sad situation needs to be handled by its roots. It would even be better for a person to seek rehabilitation once they feel the urge to taste the drugs or have just tasted them.
I have personally been brought up in an abuse family whose roots are substance abuse. All this began with my father who is now deceased. He was a chain smoker and an alcoholic, which made him, come home late and beat up my mother. All my father’s earnings went into alcohol and smoking. This made life difficult for us considering the fact that he was the sole breadwinner in the family. My mother had no job but due to the prevailing situations, he had no otherwise but to do ordinary jobs just to sustain us. It was sad to see my mother waste away also just because of the psychological and physical torture that she underwent under a man he referred to us a husband. After the death of my mother, my father resorted to abusing us but this hit my sister hard who was sexually molested. With all the frustrations and the fact that my dad’s health was deteriorating, my two sisters also resorted to substance abuse just to try to forget what was happening around them.
I really felt I had a responsibility to play in keeping the family put but it was not easy for me either. I tried my best to do some odd jobs to provide for both of us but the money was never adequate. The frustrations took toll on my sisters who ultimately became mentally ill. I look back at the situation and am left with no one to blame but maybe the poverty situation that we have been brought up in that made my dad a drunkard. I may not be able to blame my dad as I cannot understand the kind of pressure that he was going through and the responsibilities that he had. I have come to understand that substance abuse is a mental illness that requires prevention mechanisms rather than treatment, which in most cases never works.d. Identification of points at which treatment was offered or received, or at which treatment/intervention might have had a beneficial effect, had it been offered.
Results/impact of treatment received
With my parents now deceased, I could not afford to lose my two sisters to substance abuse. I recommended them to a health facility where they could start a psychological healing process. The treatment is a steady process and the doctors say it all depends on the patient and their willingness to accept and adopt a new lifestyle. The treatment differs from one patient to another depending on how long they have been affected, how they got into it and the memories they are willing to let go. For sure, when I personally reminisce what my family has gone through, tears flow freely yet I was a bit strong not to be addicted. I have no idea how much harm it caused my sisters but at the look of things, it must have been deep. The fact that my sisters are girls, their response towards the same must have been different considering their psychological make and their expectations. It must be particularly hurting for them to see my mom being abused and ultimately succumbing to the treatment they received.
The treatment is birthing hope for them as they are able to avoid being engaged in drugs as well as getting the necessary council. The hardest part for the psychiatrists has however been to convince them that they have a deep-rooted condition that needs a lot of attention. In most cases, they feel they need to be left alone and continue with their lifestyles. My sisters reached a level when they felt that nobody cared for them especially when their closest family members could do nothing about their situation. Even though help has come their way, there is a feeling that such help would have come to them when they were going through their frustrations. I personally thought the incidence was an insult to the doctors who were trying to help them and tried to calm them down. However, the doctors said that opening up on the frustrations they went through is important in aiding their healing process.
Even though I need complete healing for my sisters, I feel uncomfortable especially when I am asked to reveal some personal information about my family. I feel that even though my family was not stable and that my parents did not try hard enough to instil discipline in us, I still feel they deserve respect for giving birth to us. I feel like revealing genuine information about the treatment we received would be an insult to my dead parents when in the real sense I cannot understand why they behaved so. It was also at this point that the doctors observed that I also needed some sought of cancelling just to accept that I was abused. In the psychiatrist’s office, I also realised that I had a lot of baggage in me that needed to be released. As I slowly opened up, I learned to accept the past and appreciate the fact that I have a chance to make my life a better one.
Significant events which may have affected a family member’s substance use or which may have been a direct result of his/her substance use or treatment
My family has had a history of alcoholism and smoking. My grandfather was an alcoholic and I am told my other forefathers engaged in alcoholism. It is for this reason that it was easy for my father to also adapt to the habit, which seems to be a family culture. The fact that such substances were readily available makes young children born in such families try them out. I do understand that my father was the first born in the family and was hence at the centre of all the alcohol drama in the family. To add injury to the issue, he was brought up in a culture where alcohol was not just acquired from outside but brewed within the compound. My grandfathers compound was like a drinking hub for the community where the old men gathered on a frequent basis to discuss various issues. Even though the young children were not allowed around the brews, it was hard to contain the issue as they would sneak some and secretly drink it (Kumpfer, Alvarado, Smith & Bellamy, 2002).
Apart from the fact that my dad grew up in an alcoholic background, he was faced with family changes of not being able to provide for the family. He spent most of his cash on alcohol and therefore not being able to provide efficiently for the family. The only way he could escape such pressure was to indulge in more drinking and smoking. She also received substantial amount of pressure from my mother because of his irresponsible behaviour. This also made him agitated and resorted to mistreating my family. He did not want to be confronted and simply be left to continue with his lifestyle. This took toll on my mother who had to step in just to sustain the family. Unfortunately, the health of my dad and mom deteriorated. My dad died of alcohol related sicknesses while my mum was just too stressed with what was happening around. She developed heart conditions.
The same scenario can be related to my two sisters who also just wanted an escape route to their issues. The abuse they also received from a person they called dad also affected them mentally. Seeing a jobless mother struggle with odd jobs made them think that they were just being a burden to her. I also felt the same yet there was little I could do. I saw them waste away in immoral behaviour just to suite in the environment.
Identification of substance use and mental health risk factors for family members of your generation and future generations
The situation that has been in my family worries me a lot yet it is a revelation. I do not want to take chances with the alcohol menace in my family and therefore doing all that I can to avoid its indulgence. Knowing that alcoholism could be a gene that could easily get into my family, I am getting the necessary advice to ensure that my upcoming generation is safe. I have just realised that it is better to solve a problem before it happens especially if it is bound to happen. I have purposed not to run away from this issue and assume that it will not happen to my children. There is no parent who has struggled with substance abuse, who would like the same for their children. The issue however is that most of them do not do much to solve it but rather silently wish that their children would not indulge in it.
The fact that I am not an alcoholic myself will act as a good example to them yet not the ultimate solution. This is because of other influential factors that may surround them. The first step I will take is to educate them about the dangers of alcohol and their high risk of being victims. I will narrate to them the alcoholism history that has been there in my family and how it affected our growth (Lewis, Piercy, Sprenkle, & Trepper, 1990). This will be meant to enlighten them as well as to caution them against such irresponsible behaviour. Knowing that being addicted to alcohol and other substance abuse is a procedure that happens in stages will caution them against tasting it.
There is a need for intervention in the family to minimize on similar occurrences in the family. The issue of drug abuse and addiction in the family needs to begin before it starts. This can mostly work in a family that is at risk of such consequences. Taking the case of my family where alcohol abuse has been part of the culture, one can easily tell that it is a hereditary gene that needs to be checked before it manifests. For this case, the family members and more especially my sisters need not only to be counselled but also informed on some of the measures they can apply to ensure that the their children do not fall victims to the menace. Just as I have purposed to let my children know that my family has had serious issue with drug addiction, I will recommend my sisters to do the same for their children. This can also be done with the help of a counsellor or a rehabilitation expert. It will be important for parents of children in a family of drug abuse and addiction to keep a close eye on their children and maintain good relationships with them.
It is unfortunate that some parents pretend to have been okay and not had such issues when they know their children may suffer for them. It is advisable that parents keep such relations with their children even if they have not yet won the battle against drug addiction. Parents should be open enough to tell them that drug addiction is an issue that has had negative impacts on them and it is difficult to overcome. Such stories will help ensure that they are cautious about it and that they do all they cannot to indulge in drugs. It will also make the children more confident as they trust their parents. They will be open to them on instances when they are tempted or have the urge to indulge and hence being able to get the necessary assistance. When the children know that drug problem flows in their family, and that it has negative consequences, they will be cautious of the influences around them, accept the issue at hand and deal with it confidently.
The project has made me reflect on some issues that I have been taking for granted over the years. The issue of drugs should not be taken lightly in the family. It is something that is mostly condemned in the society rather than sympathised. I have learned that drug addiction can be a hereditary disease just like the others and needs precautionary measures. Rather than condemning those that are struggling with it, the community needs to assist in recovery and even overcoming the issue. When people fail to understand the struggles that a person under the influence of drugs go through, they mistake them and even discriminate them. This only worsens the situation for them. One of the methods that should be used to help people with drug problems to recover is to accept them and incorporate them into communal activities. Another important lesson I have learned is that children born in families of drug issues need to adapt to an intervention procedure that will prevent them from being victims. This should be done through the assistance of their parents who should remain open about the issue and caution them against the same.
Copello, A. G., Copello, A. G., Velleman, R. D., & Templeton, L. J. (2005). Family interventions in the treatment of alcohol and drug problems. Drug and alcohol review, 24(4), 369-385.
Kumpfer, K. L., Alvarado, R., Smith, P., & Bellamy, N. (2002). Cultural sensitivity and adaptation in family-based prevention interventions. Prevention Science, 3(3), 241-246.
Lewis, R. A., Piercy, F. P., Sprenkle, D. H., & Trepper, T. S. (1990). Family-based interventions for helping drug-abusing adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 5(1), 82-95.