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A drug overdose happens when an individual ingests or uses drugs in greater quantities than what is recommended. According to one source, over 70,000 people have died in the US because of drug overdose. Drug overdose doesn’t only affect the user but also their families.
To paint a clearer picture of how drug overdose can affect families, consider the points below:
1. It can create conflict and friction between family members
Experiencing a family member overdose from drugs will likely cause heightened negative emotions among other members of the family. Especially if the person did not survive the overdose, feelings of blame, regret, and resentment might arise among those who were left behind. It is not unlikely that other family members will begin to point fingers against each other as they undergo different stages of grief. In refusing to accept the reality of the situation, they may resort to finding fault in others in order to justify and rationalise what has happened.
This can sow discord among family members, especially if the one who suffered an overdose was a younger member. Parents might blame each other for being irresponsible, and siblings might blame themselves for not being able to help or detect signs of drug abuse that may have been exhibited by their family member.
Financial disagreements might also take place due to the tragedy. It is more than likely that those who suffer from substance abuse tend to owe money from different people or lenders, which their family might discover when it’s already too late. Paying for these debts will cause financial strain, particularly for families who may not be earning enough. Some may resort to borrowing from other members of the family, but this may not always be a welcome occurrence, considering that many relatives tend to refuse lending any money for activities that may have involved drugs or crimes. This can, again, sow discord among family members and relatives as one party may feel that they are not being helped, while another feels that this kind of situation might not be aligned with their moral code or beliefs, thus their refusal to have anything to do with it.
2. It can force children to stop attending school
Education is vital for children. However, when a family member passed away due to drug overdose, children might be forced to stop attending school, especially if the victim of drug overdose was a parent or the family’s breadwinner. Without the ample financial help to pay for their education, children might be forced to leave school altogether.
Without school and finances, the children who have been left behind by the victim of a drug overdose might be forced to look for jobs that could augment the family’s income. Child services may also become involved if the adults left to care for the children will not be able to properly provide for their needs.
Without the guidance of school, it is also possible that children will be involved in risky behaviours, such as drug and alcohol abuse, unprotected sex, or even criminal activities. These actions can create lifelong consequences not only to the child but also to their families.
3. It may influence surviving family members to use drugs
For the surviving family members, moving forward in life after the passing of a relative or loved one can be a struggle, especially if the death of their family member was caused by a drug overdose. While some people can easily cope with grief, others can’t, especially if the issue of substance abuse is involved. Because it’ll be hard for surviving family members to cope with anxiety or depression, they may resort to medication as a means of managing their grief.
Over time, it is possible that they may also become dependent on drugs, leading to an unending cycle of drug abuse and drug overdose in the family.
Seek professional help
If you know a family member who has been abusing drugs, seek help as soon as possible. Don’t wait for this family member to overdose on illegal drugs as this can create long-term consequences for the entire family. Seek treatment immediately so that individuals can quickly recover from their addiction and not lead to an overdose.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He writes for the American Psychological Association and has a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today.
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