Being faced and having to deal with the substance abuse or addiction of a loved one who is trapped in a cycle of self-destruction can have ruinous effect on a family. Whatever the form of the addiction – be it alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex – the outcome is often the same: the slow and painful erosion of trust and mutual respect; the inevitable build-up of anger and frustration on both sides; and the ultimate breakdown of the family unit.
The dangers of substance and behavioural addictions are varied and many, ranging from the extremes to which someone will go to obtain their fix, to the destructive nature of the fix itself. For too many people, the addiction ends in tragedy, devastating the lives of loved ones.
Addiction or abuse is officially diagnosed when someone’s relationship with the specific substance or behaviour (alcohol, drugs, gambling or even sex) becomes the primary relationship in his or her life, overtaking relationships with family, friends, loved ones, work or studies. As the individual’s life begins to revolve more and more around this relationship, and less around family, friends and other communities, he or she becomes increasingly isolated. When this unnatural relationship becomes all consuming, they begin to lie, steal or even engage in criminal activities in order to support their addiction.
The consequences over time generally include frequent absences from work, school, university or college, poor job performance leading to potential job loss, alienation of the family, loss of friends, cessation of normal activities and changes in mood, appearance and behaviour.
Families and friends in particular are profoundly affected. Their attempts to help are met with denial and aggression; the abuse often comes at a huge and increasing financial cost; the stigma of addiction often results in denial or attempted cover ups; and the strain of not being able to help often results in anxiety and depression.
While substance abuse and addiction are classified as psychiatric diseases in and of themselves, international research has revealed that 80% of individuals engaged in substance abuse or addictive behaviour suffer from other psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, as well as unresolved issues from the past and current social circumstances.
If you and your family are trapped in this desperate cycle, be assured that there is a way out. No matter how isolated and alone you feel, there are many other people walking this same path, and professionals who are dedicated to helping you change the direction of your and your family’s life for the better.
Akeso’s dual diagnosis/addiction units have been established specifically to help individuals suffering from psychiatric conditions, including substance and behavioural addictions, as well as support their loved ones through the process of healing and restoration of the family unit. The programme is based on an integrated bio-psycho-social treatment model which focuses on building skills for sustained behavioural change. Each person is assisted by a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals including psychiatrists, general practitioners, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, as well as by counsellors who are in active recovery themselves.
Most importantly, Akesos dual diagnosis units are committed to care that is non-judgemental and promotes dignity and self-respect in the individual.