Everyone who has lost a loved one, deserves some sort of emotional support during the bereavement period. Psychologists argue that caregiving during this period is extremely crucial for facilitating the well-being of the grieving family. As Sigmund Freud explained in his theory of psychoanalysis, if one bottles up their grief or have no one around to share it with, the likelihood of it turning into a self-induced depression is quite high. Unfortunately, while people are more than willing to offer condolence to families who have lost a loved one to natural incidents, there is a clear demarcation in the way they respond to the those who have lost a member to drugs or alcohol.
The needs and experiences of family members who lost a son or a daughter to a drug-related incident are less researched. Children, who lost a parent or a loved one to drugs are often excommunicated by their peers. Not only that, they also become subject to incessant bullying. Living under the glare of being the child of a “drug user” can be a deep traumatizing experience for him/her.
Social media too seems to play a role in dehumanizing a drug overdosing case. A reportage like “Teen dies of overdose” or “An Unemployed man dies of overdose” does little to assuage the grief of family members and is abrasive to the point of causing hurt. While there is an overflowing sympathy for a victim of an automobile accident or a terminal illness, drug overdose victims are blamed for inviting the trouble onto themselves.
Immediate consequences of bereavement
In the immediate aftermath of the bereavement, the family is most likely to experience conflicting emotions. Denial, disbelief and confusion could exist in tandem with shock, sadness, humiliation, and guilt.
Overwhelming sense of shame: Children who have lost a family member to substance abuse are overwhelmed with a sense of shame. Bullied at school and ostracized by the community despite being innocent, they might find succor in an unfriendly world by resorting to substance abuse.
Guilt for not being able to stop the addiction in time: The insensitive way in which authorities, legal bodies and medical fraternity deal with an overdosing incident adds to the woes of the family members who feel guilty for not preventing the addiction in time.
Changed family dynamics: In case of an earning parent having lost their life to drugs, the family runs into unsurmountable financial problems. Children might have to seek employment early sometimes, without completing their education. With the changing socio-economic condition, children might hold a grudge and silently grieve.
Sense of betrayal: In an old study, relating to how family members felt after someone they knew died of a fatal overdose, many reported a sense of betrayal. One of the parents said, “Not only did we find [our son] dead, we found out as well that he was back on heroin”. Many interviewees believed that at the time of death, their loved one was cured of addiction after successful treatment.
Road to recovery
When a person becomes addicted to drugs, there is a notable change in their behavior. They could become increasingly isolated and seek odd hours to go outside. Changes in one’s physical appearance is also apparent along with frequent mood fluctuations. Slurred speech, dazed look, lack of hygiene and loss of appetite are all common. Upon closer inspection, one may notice needle marks, open spores and abscesses on arms and other body parts.
Addiction to any substance, whether illegal or prescribed, can pose serious health issues to one’s physical and mental health. It is therefore, advisable to seek early treatment before it turns fatal. If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs, contact the Arizona Drug Addiction Helpline to get information on the finest drug addiction treatment centers in Arizona. You can call our 24/7 helpline 866-576-4147 or chat online with one of our experts for further information on state-of-the-art drug rehabilitation centers in Arizona offering holistic recovery programs.