Dina’s last session with her therapist had been a harsh revelation. Her family and personal life was a mess because of her depression and drug addiction. As it turned out, her depression was a result of her own dysfunctional family; her father was an alcoholic. And she had started self-medicating with the drugs. The negative impact came a full circle without her realising it.
If only, she had seen the signs, she would have tried to ensure that her kids did not have to endure the problems that came with a broken family. Now, all she could do was to get her act together and make sure that her kids did not take up drugs or alcohol as a shield against the troubles battering down on a distressed family like she did.
It has been observed time and again that an individual who has suffered abuse or assault of any kind at the hands of a family member as a child is more likely to endure the symptoms of depression and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Coping with these conditions is not easy, often making such individuals turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Within no time, this “coping mechanism” usually turns into a full-blown addiction. Such incidences of co-occurring substance abuse and mental illness are known as dual diagnosis. A vicious cycle is formed when the cause and result of a dysfunctional family is a mental disorder and addiction.
Understanding the cycle
Previous research has confirmed that addiction and the environment of an individual have a reciprocal relationship as people influence their environment and are influenced by it in turn. The impact of addiction, fed by a mental disorder, is bound to send ripples, affecting not just the individual battling addiction but everyone around her/him. People close to the dependent person, such as family members, friends and even co-workers, are likely to be affected the most.
The spouse and children of the addicted individual have to bear the brunt of her/his irresponsible drug-induced behaviour. The family is generally socially ostracized and the family members face emotional abuse, if not physical or sexual abuse. Psychological conditions, such as chronic stress, anxiety or depression, are also a result of such abuse.
The impact on children is deeper as they go into denial as a defence mechanism or develop trust and self-esteem issues, and cognitive impairments. Unable to cope with perilous circumstances, they develop mental disorders, and to manage the symptoms of such a disorder, they self-medicate with drugs or other substances.
Financial crisis is another issue that plagues a household inhabited by a person suffering from a dual diagnosis. Co-workers are also not spared as they might have to shoulder or take full responsibility for the workload that was originally meant for the afflicted person.
Statistics provided by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) state that 40-60 percent of intimate partner violence (IPV) incidences have a co-occurring angle of substance abuse. While National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that amongst the people reporting drug abuse, two-thirds were emotionally, physically or sexually abused as a child.
Save a loved one
Generally, the family of a dependent person witnesses the adverse effect for generations. Though the family members and close friends are the most affected by an individual’s drug or substance abuse, they are also the ones who can help the individual gain full recovery from his/her dual diagnosis.
If you or a loved one is battling a co-occurring substance use disorder and a mental illness, and are looking for dual diagnosis treatment centers in California, get in touch with the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline. Call at our 24/7 dual diagnosis helpline number (855) 980-1736 or chat online with one of our experts to connect with the best dual diagnosis treatment center, near you.