The family may be a source of stress, tension, and problems, and can drive its individuals to cope with these problems in harmful ways, such as by use of drugs and alcohol (UNDCP, 1995). Families may be social inhibitors, or may be a channel for family members to be involved in the community.
The implications of familial relationships can influence both positive and negative behaviors. The family has the potential to be a source of social and community values, and may be a critical part in the intervention process (UNDCP, 1995; Agha, Zia & Irfan, 2008). In some circumstances, the family may be the source of drug addiction; the family can also be a source of treatment. The role of the family is critical to the success or failure of an addict seeking sobriety (Barnard, 2007). Even in the healthiest family environments, having an addict or multiple addicts in the family may strain relationships, create feelings of resentment, and these stressors can encourage addictive behaviors (UNDCP, 1995). Finding a solution to drug addiction within the family unit requires treatment for the addict as well as the family. Both the addict and their families need counseling services to help identify and process underlying emotional hindrances that can prevent recovery. The family alone is not enough to provide formal treatment, but must be viewed as an outlet to explore available resources.
The Role of Faith Organizations
The church and religious institutions play a unique role in the community and has the potential to assists addicts and their families. The role of the church is not applicable to every situation, just as not every family is suited to provide an intervention for one of its members. Although religious institutions are not able to assist all addicts, many institutions are in a position to communicate and educate their followers on the consequences of addiction (Mitchell, 2003). The majority of faith organizations are active within the community and are well acquainted with its members. The report of an expert consensus panel meeting, partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, explained the multifaceted role of a pastor or minister as someone:
"to comfort and support individuals, to create communities of mutual caring with congregations, and to education the congregation, and sometimes the larger community, about issues of importance to individual and community well being" (Mitchell, 2003, p. ii).
Clergymen, pastors, and ministers must have a base of knowledge and skills that include understanding the basic physiology and behavioral manifestations of alcohol and drug addiction, the effect drugs or alcohol may have the individual's life (healthy, job sustainability, etc.), and provide theological context for addiction (Mitchell, 2003). With this knowledge, leaders within faith organizations may act as a channel between the members of their congregation who are suffering from the effects of addiction, and the community resources that are available to them. Clergymen, pastors, and ministers can educate those members of the congregation and their families about the warning signs of addiction, the consequences, and can recommend resources and community organizations that are capable of dealing with addiction.
The Role of the Community
The community has the potential to be an oasis of resources for a recovering addict. One obstacle facing the availability of community services is insufficient fiscal resources. Assuming the community has the monetary resources to fund programs, there may be an abundance of programs and help groups available. Recovering addicts can pursue housing programs, work programs, educational programs, and counseling services (Hanson et al., 2012). Addicts may also find mutual support groups to be beneficial to their recovery. Self-help and mutual support groups are not considered formal treatment; they are comprised of members who experience the same problem and volunteer their time to support one another during recovery (U.S. DHHS, 2008). In order for these community programs to succeed, they must employ community outreach (Hanson et al., 2012). Outreach is crucial as addicts and their families must be aware that such services exist in order to take advantage of them.
Drug addiction is a complex human issue that harbors significant social consequences. Addiction is characterized by physical dependence, and refers to the uncontrolled impulse to use a drug in spite of physical, emotional, and social consequences that are associated with its use. Although historically recorded instances of drug abuse have been preserved over the last two millenniums, drug abuse and addiction are currently more severe and widespread than ever before in human history. Advances in communication, drug manufacturing, and shipping technologies have created an environment where drugs are easily available for consumption.
The widespread availability of illicit drugs has transformed drug addiction into a social problem. A social problem affects all individuals within a society regardless of status. Finding a solution to the social problem of drug addiction involves the employment of social solutions that involve the family, faith organizations, and the community. The family is a complex social unit and has the potential to help or harm the life of an addict. The family may be the origin of an addiction, or it may be the source of treatment, and healthy family environments have the greater potential to be a part of the solution in an addict's life (UNDCP, 1995). The family alone is not enough to ensure sobriety, but acts as a support system to encourage the recovering addict to succeed. The church and faith organizations may act as a channel between addicts and the community resources that are available to them. If leaders of faith organizations are educated on the risk factors, warning signs, and consequences of addiction, they can better communicate and educate their congregation about this social problem.
The overall community is abundant with resources for addicts and their families. Utilizing programs for educational, housing, employment, and counseling services can be critical to securing sobriety. To be effective, these programs must participate in community outreach as addicts and their supporters must be aware such services exist. Drug addiction is a social problem and necessitates social resources provided by the family, faith organizations, and the community to achieve a solution.
Agha, S., Zia, H., & Irfan, S. (2008). Psychological problems and family functioning as risk factors in addiction. Journal of Ayub Medical College, 20(3), 88-91.
The research presented by Agha, Zia, and Irfran assesses the role of the family and how families function in relation to the psychological problems experienced between drug addicts and non-drug addicts. They conducted a study on 240 adolescent individuals, half were addicts and half were not. The Family Assessment Measure scale was used on the study sample to predict family environments and their relation to addiction. There was significant behavioral difference between the two study groups; however, additional research is needed before generalizations can be made.
This study is relevant to this paper as it informs on the early relationships built with the family and how those relationship affect addiction. Agha, Zia, and Irfran work in the Department of Medical Education at Isra University. Their backgrounds suggest they are well versed in the illness that is addiction and have the resources to study the role of the family pertaining to youth addicts. Their research is useful to this paper as it discusses the significance of family and its role in aggravating addiction. This research reinforces that the family plays a significant role in preventing addiction and/or sustaining addiction, and the family is also a critical solution to eliminating addiction.
Barnard, M. (2007). Drug addiction and families. (1st ed.). London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
This text offers a comprehensive look at drug addiction and its relation to the family. The text identifies the complexities of familial roles, and how the family can contribute to addictive behaviors. The text also discusses having drug addicts within the family and the effects on children. The audience is intended for those studying, or interested in, the intricate relationship between family and addict. The family plays a significant role in the success or failure of an addict's journey for sobriety and is relevant to this paper.
Hanson, G., Venturelli, P., & Fleckenstein, a. (2012). Drugs and society. (11th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.
This text is a comprehensive overview of drug abuse, addiction, types of drugs, prevention, treatment, risk factors, principles of treatment, etc. It is a reference text that gives the history of drugs, drug use, and the evolution of drug use. The text also provides some statistics on the incidence of drug abuse and in some instances, reports drug information on a global scale. The text is relevant to this paper as it provides both comprehensive background and current information on drug abuse.
Dr. Hanson and Dr. Fleckenstein are professors in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Utah. Dr. Hanson alone has studied drug addiction for over…