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Effects of Heroin on the Family

The effects of heroin on the family are many. For example, a family will try to take care of each other, especially when one member of the family has a serious problem such as heroin addiction. But what happens when the heroin addict not only refuses the help of the other family members but appears to go out of their way to hurt and upset them?

Effects of Heroin on the Family: Everyone involved is caught in a vicious circle

Most individuals in this situation will endeavor to try even harder to get the result they want - which is to stop using heroin. It's one of life's ironies that the harder they try, the worse it seems to get. Everyone involved is caught in a vicious circle and feels trapped.

Effects of Heroin on the Family: How does it all start?

In the early stages, the family, especially the person closest to the heroin addict, may not want to believe what they can see is happening. Some normal beliefs come into play:

.If I were a better wife, (or husband, son, daughter, mother) they would love me enough to stop using heroin..

"As a mother, I must have done something wrong to make him/her feel so bad that s/he has to take heroin."

.I need to work harder, to make sure they do love me and then everything will be OK..

Effects of Heroin on the Family: Blame

Believing they're to blame in some way, family members may become focused on making things better and keeping the family functioning. Due to this fact, family members rarely address their own issues.

The heroin addict, meanwhile, needs to blame someone for their addiction and the family is usually the excuse they use. But while the addict is taking all the attention, family members rarely address their own issues. Few can talk about what's really happening - feeling it would be too dangerous, not what they are used to - someone might get angry and leave or worse, it could lead to the family separating. At this point communication begins to break down and the vicious circle goes round, with all the family members locked in their own pain while trying to cope.

Effects of Heroin on the Family Socially:

Through embarrassment and shame, families may decline invitations, stop inviting friends round, hobbies are ignored and the family becomes gradually more isolated - they're unable to tell anyone what's happening.

Effects of Heroin on the Family Mentally:

When someone's been lied to many times, when they're searching for evidence to support their suspicions, when they're the focus of someone else's abuse, they start to wonder if they're going crazy.

Effects of Heroin on the Family Emotionally:

Living with a heroin addict is like being on a roller coaster - with feelings of anger, frustration, helplessness, confusion, hopelessness, desperation, guilt and shame.

Effects of Heroin on the Family Physically:

The stress of being on edge all the time, constantly worrying what the next phone call will bring or what you'll find when you open the door, eventually takes its toll on the body. Family members have more than the average degree of health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, headaches, migraines, digestive disorders and heart problems, often resulting in them having to take medication. It's not unusual to find relatives admitting to occasionally having suicidal feelings.

The family becomes so focused on the behavior of the heroin addict that they're distracted from all but the essential matters. The family has developed its way of coping, which is a dependency in itself - the family members and the addict have set up a dependency culture that's very hard to break.

The family becomes so involved helping the addict that contemplating stopping is as difficult for them as it is for the addict to stop using heroin. A huge fear of making any changes can build up - and this eventually becomes counterproductive.

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