Good Essay On Dysfunctional Family System
Substance abuse has in the recent past become a major public health problem that afflicts many people. Drug addiction is not entirely a personal problem of the addict but the rest of the family that surrounds the family. It places an enormous social and financial burden on the society. Drug addiction leads to destruction of families, places a burden on the economy, communities are victimized, and extra demands are placed on the education, social services and criminal justice systems. The problems of drug addiction can be overcome only if the family is supportive and offers an environment that encourages and sustains recovery. However, some families are dysfunctional, and hence their relationships, rules, and roles are not supportive of recovery of an addict. This paper seeks to explore how a dysfunctional family deals with drug addiction.
In an instant in which one partner abuses a drug the sober partner may overcompensate to manage the situation. This involves the sober partner stepping in for the drug abuser in instances when the addict neglects his duties. This includes covering up in parenting so that the kids do not feel the impact of the drunken parent. The sober parent may also end up taking up most of the financial responsibilities that have been neglected by the addict. This is very dysfunctional as it sustains the addiction as the addict feel that since their direct responsibility is being taken care of by another party they can comfortably continue with their addiction. Denial is another habit that is prevalent in dysfunctional families dealing with an addict. It occurs when family members fail to or refuse to admit that the substance used is causing serious health, relationship, and financial problems. The family members remain in denial on how serious the problem has spread through the family and how serious the problem is affecting family relationships. The family also fails to see how they have contributed to the addiction problem. The family denial usually increases with an increase in severity of the addiction. This usually continues until the addiction is too obvious, and denial is no longer sustainable and the entire family is left with no alternative but to admit that the addiction does exist. Even when the reality that a family member is an addict has downed some family members will find themselves focusing on other issues to avoid discussing the addiction problem. This is often due to some family members feeling they are to blame or are ashamed to be associated with the addict. Also often there can be feelings of guilt of either feeling that one contributed or failed to stop the addiction problem.
Another characteristic of a dysfunctional family is that they enable the addiction to continue. This is done by allowing the substance abuser to continually avoid the negative consequences that arise due to their actions. This they may do consciously or unconsciously. Some of the ways by which this enabling is done is by collecting money from other family members to cover bills that arise due to the addict’s actions. Repeatedly covering up for the addict when they fail to turn up at work, school or do not perform to the optimum required of them. This is also done by trying to protect the addict from shame by driving them home when they pass out or sneaking them to be the bedroom away from the glare of the whole family. There is also putting up with repeated inappropriate behavior that is elicited under the influence of the drug and not holding the addict to account for their behavior both when sober and when not. This enabling is usually done by siblings, parents, coworkers among others. The initial intention of the enabling is often perceived to be good by the enablers as they aim to protect the addict from embarrassing situations or harm but gradually the enabling becomes a big problem in the family as it compounds the addiction.
The roles that the family members adopt can also potentially fuel the addiction to a great extent. In this case, the father is the addict. The addict can feel that the world revolves around him. He knows that he is the center of attention. At times, feelings of guilt can arise in the addict due to the stress that their addiction is subjecting the rest of the family to. This may include the financial strain, emotional turmoil though at times the addict may actually be enjoying the attention that he is able to attract to himself. The mother of the family has assumed the role of a hero. She strives to make things look good and life to move on as normal. This she does by consciously choosing to ignore the problem and look at everything in a positive manner. The mother does not discuss the issues of the addiction and is hence a perfectionist. However, deep down she has feelings of guilt, shame, and fear. The mother also acts as the caretaker. This she does by trying to make everyone happy and keep the family in balance. She constantly makes excuses for all the behaviors of the husband and to the public she presents the situation is well. However, deep down she has feelings of inadequacy, helplessness and fear.
An aunt of the family plays the role of the Mascot. This she does by making inappropriate jokes about the addict. This she does to diffuse the negative attention that the addict’s behavior may bring. In an attempt to make the addict's behavior look normal. She is the one that sustains conversation with the addict when the addict is high. Her role brings humor to the family and makes life with the addict more bearable, but all these become a great hindrance to recovery of the addict. However, deep down the Mascot has feeling of embarrassment for their role in perpetuating the addiction and this is coupled with feelings of anger and shame. The other member of this family is the child that assumes the role of the lost child. She is in her teenage and is already aware of the problems that the addiction has caused the family. She assumes a quite predisposition and will never mention the addiction or possibility of recovery. She is careful, not to cause problems because she feels the mother of the family is already overwhelmed by the stress that the addiction of the father has caused. She no longer prioritizes her needs in the family and carefully avoids any conversation regarding the problem at home. However, deep down she has feelings of loneliness, anger, neglect and guilt.
There are silent rules that tend to be characteristic of a family that is dealing with addiction on an unhealthy manner. One they make the fact that the addict to feel that their addiction is the most important thing in the family. This has a twisted way of making the addict feel special. The family also attempts to show to the rest of the world that all is ok and always attempts to do what is good even at the expense of being dishonest, and they always try all they can to continue operating as if all is normal. They put a lot of effort in trying to hide their true feelings towards the addiction problem and this they do in several ways that include bottling up their views and feelings towards the behavior of the addict, shying away from discussing the addiction problem with any person that is not a recognized member of the family unit, they completely shut their minds to issues and difficulties that they do not wish to address. These silent rules that are common in dysfunctional families dealing with addiction are very destructive because they provide the addict with an environment to continue thriving in their addiction and by keeping to themselves all the problems that they are facing and pretending that all is ok they shut out people that had they opened up to would have been able to offer help and arrest the addiction situation before it becomes severe.
Relationships are often unhealthy in families that are dealing with addiction the parents relate in an unhealthy manner and boundaries of relating with children are often broken. A parent may show preference to a child probably in an effort to get a confidant due to the stress caused by the presence of the addict in the family. The addict may also relate to a child that seems to give him audience. All these are unhealthy because the child is exposed to issues that they are too young to comprehend. Finally, there are usually rituals that are formed in a family that tends to sustain the addiction. These could manifest in the family taking a drink at the end of the day and the addict ending up drunk, the addict abusing the drug every time they are upset or bored. Some substance abusers also turn to abuse of drugs any time they have extra cash. These family rituals are so predictive, and they make it hard for the addict to break off the cycle. The only way that the addict can recover is by breaking off these destructive rituals and this may even involve the whole family having to drop some of the activities that they were used to doing together that tended to sustain the addiction. The only way that a family can stop addiction is by doing away with roles, rules, rituals and relationships that have supported the addiction.